Take a drive around the Texas Medical Center and you’ll see history come alive. The names on buildings and street signs on every corner have a story to tell, including Ben Taub General Hospital. But ask even a veteran employee who has walked these streets for years to say a few words about Ben Taub and you’ll likely draw a blank stare.
The early history of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston (GSBS) traces back to a surgeon born in Hereford, Texas named Randolph Lee Clark, MD. He was a visionary leader who made cancer history and helped UTHealth in many ways as a collection of schools became a Health Science Center in 1972. We see his name on MD Anderson’s Clark Clinic Building but who was the man and what is his story? As we celebrate the GSBS 50th anniversary this year, take a moment to look back in time to learn more about one of the Texas Medical Center’s great visionary leaders and builder of programs.
Consider the game show, Jeopardy. You are a contestant and just selected the category, Houston Names for $500. Your question: What do the Houston years 1921-1929, 1933-1937, 1939-1941, 1947-1953 and 1956-1958 have in common? Beep. Correct answer: Who was Oscar Fitzallen Holcombe? Holcombe, the boulevard we all know. But do we know Holcombe the man?
1891 was a big year for health care and Texas. That year, the new University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) opened the state’s first medical school we know today as The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB).
In spring 1956, a handsome and tanned John P. McGovern, MD, made a decision to leave his faculty position at Tulane University in New Orleans and move 348 miles west to Houston and the new Texas Medical Center. He was 35 years old. As a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Tulane’s Charity Hospital, McGovern excelled as a teacher, clinician and researcher on a fast trajectory at the national level as a member of numerous professional organizations that constantly sought his input and leadership. Some of his medical students in New Orleans even went as far as describing McGovern in the mid-1950s as reminiscent of a young John F. Kennedy who was also tanned, charismatic and rapidly on his way to the top of his field.
‘Bout Time is about connecting our past to our present. Dr. Bryant Boutwell is the John P. McGovern Professor of Oslerian Medicine at the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics and a Distinguished Teaching Professor. He is the author of two books on the history of Houston and the Texas Medical Center and writes this column to share the stories of our past stories that define who we are and how we got here.
June 19, 2014 » Who was Ben Taub?
May 22, 2014 » R. Lee Clark, MD and the Pink Palace of Healing
May 02, 2014 » Oscar Holcombe: ‘The Old Gray Fox’
April 11, 2014 » Denton Cooley: Following the heart
March 14, 2014 » John P. McGovern: A legacy of giving
February 28, 2014 » Jesse Jones: Behind the Houston skyline
February 14, 2014 » Unsung heroines of the Texas Medical Center
January 31, 2014 » Fred Elliott and the UTHealth School of Dentistry
January 17, 2014 » Houston's gift to humanity
January 03, 2014 » From forest to Texas Medical Center
December 13, 2013 » George Hermann and his hospital
November 22, 2013 » Living Legend – Dr. James H. “Red” Duke, Jr.
November 07, 2013 » Ashbel Smith, MD, and The University of Texas System