Vanderbilt University School of Medicine is a medical school located in Nashville, Tennessee. Located in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center on the southeastern side of the Vanderbilt University campus, the School of Medicine claims two Nobel laureates: Earl Wilbur Sutherland, Jr., in 1971, for his discovery of the metabolic regulating compound cyclic AMP, and Stanley Cohen, in 1986, for his discovery with a colleague of epidermal growth factor.
The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (abbreviated VUSM) was founded in 1851 as the school of medicine at the University of Nashville and only became affiliated with Vanderbilt University in 1874. The first degrees issued by Vanderbilt University were to 61 Doctors of Medicine in February 1875, thanks to an arrangement that recognized the University of Nashville’s medical school as serving both institutions. The arrangement continued for 20 more years, until the school was reorganized under the control of the Vanderbilt Board of Trustees. In the early days, the School of Medicine was owned and operated as a private property of the practicing physicians who composed the faculty and received the fees paid by students. At this time, the course of medical instruction consisted of just three years of schooling, which was extended to four years starting in 1898. Vanderbilt University made no financial contribution to the school’s support and exercised no control over admission requirements, the curriculum, or standards for graduation. In 1925, the school moved from the old South Campus across town to the main campus, thus integrating instruction in the medical sciences with the rest of the university.
The school changed fundamentally during the next decades. The new medical campus finally brought together the School of Medicine, its hospital, the outpatient clinics, laboratory space, and medical library into one location. The move also put the school adjacent to the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, which had been founded in 1909. Other internal developments included the establishment of a department of Pediatrics (1928) and a department of Radiology (1936) and the acquisition of one of the school’s first large research grants, a $250,000 award from the Rockefeller Foundation in 1932.The research happening at Vanderbilt during this time included advancements that had far-reaching implications for the practice of medicine. Dr. Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomasconducted research into Blue baby syndrome that led to their 1933 medical-first neonatal cardiothoracic surgery, which formed the basis for the development of the Blalock–Taussig shunt, a life-saving procedure for infants with the Tetralogy of Fallot. And in the early 1940s, the process for culturing vaccines in chick embryos was developed by Vanderbilt’s Dr. Ernest William Goodpasture, a feat that allowed for the mass production of vaccines for diseases like yellow fever, smallpox, and typhus.
During the latter half of the 20th century, there was a further expansion of the school’s clinical mission and research achievements. The school established a formal department of Anesthesiology in 1945 to build on the school’s already significant commitment to the use of anesthetics during procedures, which had its roots in the development of the first ether-oxygen apparatus in 1907 by Vanderbilt’s Dr. James Gwathmey. The research at the school received a boost with the founding of a federally-funded Clinical Research Center in 1960. The services that the school and medical center provided for children grew tremendously with the start of a department of Neonatology and the world’s first Neonatal intensive care unit in 1961, led by Dr. Mildred T. Stahlman, and the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, which opened its doors in 1970. The research at the school of medicine also garnered two Nobel prizes during this time, with the 1971 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine going to Dr. Earl Wilbur Sutherland Jr. for his work on cyclic AMP and Dr. Stanley Cohen sharing in the 1986 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his work on growth factors.
In November 2014, the university admitted that one of its scientists fraudulently falsified six years of biomedical research in high-profile journals. The scientist, Igor Dhuza, was a senior research associate, was hired by Vanderbilt University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. His research was published in Nature Cell Biology, The Journal of Physiology, Circulation, and The FASEB Journal, in 2000-2005; it was cited “more than 500 times.