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Department of Pathology History


The Department of Pathology has played a significant role in the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions since the opening of the hospital in 1889 and the School of Medicine four years later. Indeed, Pathology was one of the original departments created. Moreover, the first endowed professorship at The Johns Hopkins University was the Baxley Professor of Pathology, the first professor to be appointed in the School of Medicine was the Professor of Pathology, and the first hospital building to be opened and operational was the Pathological Building.

The first Professor of Pathology was Dr. William H. Welch, a remarkable man whose influence on the Hospital and School of Medicine remains unsurpassed. Because the Pathological Building was completed in 1886, three years before the Hospital was opened and seven years before the first class of medical students was enrolled, Dr. Welch instituted a series of postgraduate lectures and began investigative work in a variety of areas. He was ably assisted by William T. Councilman, who later was appointed Shattuck Professor of Pathological Anatomy at Harvard University. Over the ensuing years, a group of young physicians was assembled whose work and subsequent careers had a profound effect on American medicine, and pathology in particular.

They included Francis Mall, William S. Halsted, Simon Flexner, Joseph Bloodgood, Eugene Opie, W.G. MacCallum, Dorothy Reed, Homer Wright and Walter Reed, to be followed by George Whipple, Milton Winternitz, Stanhope Bayne-Jones, Ernest Goodpasture and numerous other luminaries.

The range of the Department's activities has expanded considerably since its founding. This is nowhere more apparent than in the Residency Training Program. Significant expansion of training has occurred in surgical pathology and gynecologic pathology, together with the advent of training in interpretation of liver, renal, gastrointestinal and heart biopsies. Cytopathology, neuropathology, immunopathology, molecular pathology, forensic pathology, fine needle aspiration, and specialty areas in clinical pathology were all introduced within the last 30 years to keep pace with the increasing scope of pathology. Research training has been expanded and fully integrated into the house staff training programs.

The traditions of research and teaching started by Dr. Welch have been maintained conscientiously by successive directors:

William H. Welch

William H. Welch
1884 - 1917

W.G. MacCallum

W.G. MacCallum
1917 - 1944

Arnold R. Rich

Arnold R. Rich
1944 - 1958

Ivan L. Bennett Jr.

Ivan L. Bennett Jr.
1958 - 1968

Robert H. Heptinstall

Robert H.
1969 - 1988

John H. Yardley

John H. Yardley/
John Boitnott
1988 - 1992

Fred Sanfilippo

Fred Sanfilippo
1993 - 2000

J. Brooks Jackson

J. Brooks Jackson
2001 - 2014

R. Hruban

Ralph Hruban
2014 - Present

The service, research and training activities in pathology at Hopkins are thoroughly integrated. The clinical laboratories are fully merged within the Department of Pathology; the research activities in the department are integrated by disciplines with divisions representing the major academic and teaching efforts and spanning all service divisions in the Hospital; the pathology course for medical students is structured to provide balance between anatomic, clinical and basic pathologic manifestations of disease; fellowship training programs are focused on organ systems or service subspecialties.

The Residency Training Program is restructured to provide an integrated experience in anatomic and clinical pathology, and to increase responsibility for house staff in each service rotation following an initial experience in all areas during the first two years.


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