Established by the Texas Legislature in June 1969, the first class of 19 students entered in 1970. By 1979, class sizes of 200 were legislatively supported through state formula funding. From a new school with no buildings or students, to one of the nation’s outstanding centers of academic medicine, The John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) continues to develop into one of the leading centers of excellence devoted to medical education, research, quality patient care, and community outreach.  The school recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Take a moment to review a brief summary of milestones that tell the unfolding story of McGovern Medical School.

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January 1968
Original affiliation agreement is signed between the Hermann Hospital Estate and The University of Texas System Board of Regents, making Hermann Hospital the primary teaching facility for the proposed University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
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May 1969
The Texas Legislature approves the UT Medical School at Houston.
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June 1969
Preston signing


Gov. Preston Smith signs House Bill 80 into law at Texas Medical Center ceremonies in the Sammons Auditorium of the Jesse H. Jones Library Building.

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April 1970

First Dean

Cheves McCord Smythe, MD, is appointed first dean of the new school.

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September 1970
The first class of 19 students is selected and enrolls at UT campuses in three cities.
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June 1971
The first entering class of 32 students to complete all studies in Houston is welcomed at orientation.
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August 1971

Construction Begins

John H. Freeman Building construction begins.

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October 1972
George Bush, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, dedicates the John H. Freeman Building.
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November 1972
The Medical School joins The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston organizational structure.
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September 1973
Construction of Phase II (523,760 gross-square feet) begins for the Medical School Building, connecting the Freeman Building with Hermann Hospital.
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December 1973

First Graduates

The first class of 22 medical students graduates from the original class of 19 (includes three transfer students).

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December 1974
Charles Berry, MD, is named the first president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
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December 1975
Robert L. Tuttle, MD, is named dean of the UT Medical School at Houston.
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June 1976

Devastating Flood

The nearly completed Medical School Building, connecting the John H. Freeman Building and Hermann Hospital, is devastated by flood.

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August 1976
The first flight of Hermann Life Flight.
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March 1977

Phase II Construction

Phase II construction of the Medical School Building is completed.

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August 1977
The first weekend orientation retreat for new students is hosted by second-year students.
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September 1977
The first four-year class is admitted (class size, 150). The three-year curriculum is phased out with the graduation of the 1976 entering class.
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June 1978
Roger Bulger, MD, is named the second president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
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June 1978
Phase III construction of the new Medical School Building (which began in 1975) is completed.
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May 1981
The first alumni day event is held.
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June 1981

Third Dean

Ernst Knobil, PhD, is named the third dean.

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August 1982

Dr. Red Duke

James “Red” Duke, MD, professor of surgery, airs the first televised program that would eventually evolve into an internationally syndicated health segment for television.

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October 1982

The Alumni Magazine

The first issue of The Alumni Magazine is published.

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February 1984
Positron Diagnostic and Research Center, later re-named Cyclotron, opens.
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April 1985

Acting Dean

Louis A. Faillace, MD, becomes acting dean.

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July 1985

Fourth Dean

C. Frank Webber, MD, is named the fourth dean.

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August 1985
Texas Research Institute for Mental Sciences (TRIMS) becomes the UT Mental Sciences Institute (MSI).
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January 1986

Fifth Dean

John C. Ribble, MD, becomes the fifth dean, having served as associate dean for academic affairs since 1978.

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March 1986
Webber Plaza is dedicated in honor of deceased dean, Dr. Frank Webber.
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April 1986
The first group of students travel to China with Henry Strobel, PhD, as part of this ongoing senior program.
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September 1987
John C. Ribble, MD, is named interim president of the UT Health Science Center by UT Chancellor Hans Mark to serve the dual role of president and dean.
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August 1989

Third President

M. David Low, MD, PhD, is appointed the third president of the UT Health Science Center.

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January 1990

New Affiliation

The affiliation between the UT Medical School and Harris County Hospital District (Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital) is approved.

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September 1994
Problem-based Learning (PBL) is incorporated into the second-year curriculum.
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November 1994
University Care Plus (UCP) is created as the management services organization for the school’s clinical practice. UCP is later renamed UT Physicians.

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July 1995
Cheves McCord Smythe, M.D., is appointed dean pro tem.

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April 1996

Sixth Dean

L. Maximilian Buja, MD, is named the sixth dean of the UT Medical School.

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August 1996

White Coat Ceremony

The annual White Coat Ceremony is introduced for new students.

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November 1997

The merger of Hermann Hospital with Memorial Healthcare System is approved and named the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System.

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December 1998

Dr. Murad Awarded Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to the chair of the Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology, Ferid Murad, MD, PhD, for his research detailing the biological properties of nitric oxide.

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February 2000

The UT System Board of Regents approves $50 million in Permanent University Funds to launch planning and fundraising for three new buildings, including a Medical School research building.

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March 2001

Dr. Willerson Named President

James T. Willerson, MD, is named president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

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June 2001

Tropical Storm Allison

Tropical Storm Allison unleashes 10 million gallons of rain runoff into the basement of the Medical School Building, causing an estimated $205 million in damages. Memorial Hermann Hospital is forced to close for the first time in 70 years.

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June 2004

Dean Schultz

Stanley G. Schultz, MD, is named dean of the UT Medical School, having served as interim dean since June 2003.

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September 2004

UT Professional Building

The University of Texas Health Science Center purchases the Hermann Professional Building and renames it The University of Texas Health Science Center Professional Building.

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September 2004

After more than three years of construction following the devastation of Tropical Storm Allison, the ground floor of the UT Medical School reopens to student, faculty, and administrative functions.

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March 2005

Demolition of the John Freeman Building begins to make way for the six-story Replacement Research Facility.

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June 2006

Interim Dean Named

Jerry S. Wolinsky, MD, is named interim dean of the UT Medical School.

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July 2006

The Medical School’s curriculum is enhanced through the opening of the Surgical and Clinical Skills Center and the John P. McGovern, M.D. Center for Health, Humanities, and the Human Spirit.

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October 2006

The National Institutes of Health awards $36 million to establish the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences.

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August 2007

The UT Medical School welcomes its largest class, 230 students, to address national physician shortage concerns.

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September 2007

ColasurdoDr. Colasurdo Named Dean

Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, MD, is named dean of the UT Medical School.

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January 2008

Medical School Expansion Facility

The Medical School Expansion Facility, home to four stories of laboratory research space and a two-story vivarium, opens.

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August 2008

Dr. Kaiser Named President

Larry R. Kaiser, MD, is named president of the UT Health Science Center at Houston.

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February 2010

The UT System Board of Regents approves a dba for the UT Health Science Center, UTHealth.

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November 2010
The Medical School marks its 40th anniversary of academic excellence with a school-wide celebration in Webber Plaza.

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January 2011
The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases

IMM Joins the Medical School

The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases joins the UTHealth Medical School as a research institute.

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October 2012
Giuseppe N. Colasurdo, M.D., is named president and the Alkek-Williams Distinguished Chair of UTHealth.
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October 2015

Dr. Stoll Named Dean

Barbara J. Stoll, M.D., is named dean of the UTHealth Medical School.

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October 2015

A transformational gift from the McGovern Foundation renames school to John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School, placing a renewed emphasis on humanism, ethics, research, and scholarship.

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August 2016

The Medical School introduces an extensive curriculum revision, integrating medical science with systems of care and introducing clinical experience in the first year.

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December 2016

McGovern Day Sign Ceremony

Inaugural McGovern Day

The Medical School community celebrates the inaugural McGovern Day in recognition of the John P. McGovern Foundation’s transformational gift to UTHealth.

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September 2019

50 Years Elevator Poster

50th Celebration

Yearlong 50th Celebration kicks off.

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March 2020

As the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the class of 2020 celebrated a virtual Match Day – the start of a shift to an online way of life.

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June 2020

Dr. Richard Andrassy

Dr. Andrassy Named Executive Dean ad interim

Richard Andrassy, M.D., is named executive dean ad interim of McGovern Medical School.

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September 2022

John Hancock

Dr. Hancock Named Dean

John Hancock, MA, MB, BChir, PhD, ScD, is named executive dean of McGovern Medical School.