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.
Jesse Jones (1874-1956) has been called the most powerful person in the nation – only second to President Franklin Roosevelt – during the Great Depression and World War II, and not without good cause. From 1940 to 1945 he held one of the most important positions in Washington as head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation playing the key role in combating the nation’s many economic problems during and after the Great Depression and overseeing the financing of industrial expansion before and during World War II.
Look around the Texas Medical Center and the names on our medical buildings and you’ll find few honoring women. It was a different day in medicine and most of the health professions back in the 1940s when the Texas Medical Center was born. Except in nursing, women simply were not in leadership roles as these medical center schools and institutions were created. In fact, in as recent as 1965 less than 9 percent of students accepted into U.S. medical schools were women, compared to 47 percent in 2012, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).
Some say Rice University, opened in 1912, is the oldest institution of higher education in Houston. Not so. The UTHealth School of Dentistry takes the honor when you consider the school’s history traces back to 1905.
‘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.
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