Medicine at Yale, 1910 - 1960

A New Spurt of Growth: The Lippard Years, 1952-1960

In 1952, Vernon Lippard became the first full-time chief administrator of the School of Medicine. Prior to his appointment, department chairmen served as dean. During Lippard's tenure as dean, medicine at Yale experienced dramatic growth: the size of the faculty more than doubled, new academic departments were established, the annual budget grew five-fold, and the physical facilities expanded. Federal grants, especially NIH grants, helped to fund much of the expansion in faculty and research.

Vernon W. Lippard, Dean from 1952 to 1967

Born in Marlboro, Massachusetts, in 1905, Vernon Lippard entered Yale College as a freshman in 1922. After three years of college, he interviewed with Dean Winternitz for admission to the medical school. The interview process was less formal at that time, and, at the end of the interview, the dean told him: "All right, you can come." Lippard received his M.D. degree in 1929. Following residencies in New Haven and New York in pediatrics, he held various faculty and administrative positions in New York. After the war, he served as dean of Louisiana State University School of Medicine and of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, before being invited back to his alma mater in 1952. Among Lippard's many accomplishments on a national level, was his participation as one of a small group of members of the national Committee on Health Services for the Aged which helped lay the foundation for the development of the Medicare program. After his retirement as dean in 1967, Lippard remained active in medical education in this country and abroad. He died in 1985.

Photo by Alburtus-Yale News Bureau.


Paul Bruce Beeson, Chair, Department of Internal Medicine, 1952-1965

Under the chairmanship of Paul B. Beeson, the Department of Internal Medicine expanded from about ten members in 1952 to nearly 100 at the time of his resignation in 1965 to become the Nuffield Professor of Medicine at Oxford. Beeson was born in Livingston, Montana, the son of a physician. He was graduated from the University of Washington in 1928 and received his M.D. from McGill University in 1933. After internship at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and residency training at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Beeson practiced medicine in Wooster, Ohio, before joining the staff of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. Before his appointment as Ensign Professor of Medicine and chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Yale, he served as chairman of medicine at Emory University. A noted specialist in infectious diseases, Beeson encouraged doctors to start their studies of disease at the bedside at a time when medical science was becoming increasingly laboratory oriented. For many years, he co-edited with Walsh McDermott the influential Cecil Textbook of Medicine. After his resignation from Oxford University, he became Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington. In 1975, Beeson received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Yale and, in 1996, the medical service at the Yale Medical School was named in his honor. A biography entitled Physician: The Life of Paul Beeson by Richard Rapport was published in 2001.

Photo by Bachrach.


Thomas R. Forbes, Assistant/Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Chairman of Admissions, 1948-1969

Thomas Rogers Forbes (1911-1988), whose career was devoted to the Yale community, became Assistant Dean of the School of Medicine in 1948 and Associate Dean in 1960. As Chairman of the Committee on Admissions, he was largely responsible for the selection of Yale medical students in a period in which selection became ever more difficult. During his chairmanship, the percentages of women and African Americans began to rise. Forbes received his Ph.D. in anatomy from the University of Rochester in 1937. After government service in Washington during the World War II, he was appointed an instructor in anatomy at the Yale School of Medicine in 1945. He rose through the ranks to become full professor in 1962, and was named the Ebenezer Hunt Professor of Anatomy in 1977. As an anatomist and endocrinologist, Forbes carried out fundamental studies on the assaying and physiological action of progesterone. With the encouragement of John F. Fulton, Forbes also became an accomplished historian of medicine. He was the author of The Midwife and the Witch (1966), Chronicle from Aldgate (1970), Crowners Quest (1978), and Surgeons at the Bailey: English Forensic Medicine to 1878 (1985).


Milton Senn and the Child Study Center

In 1911, Arnold Gesell inaugurated services for emotionally disturbed children as well as research into the normal development of children. These services, later known as the Yale Clinic of Child Development, became known worldwide. In 1930, the clinic became a department in the School of Medicine, the first program in child development to receive such recognition in a medical school. In 1948, the Medical School sought a change of direction. Gesell was retired in favor of Milton E. Senn Gesell went on with some of his asociates to form the private Gesell Institute in New Haven.

In 1948, the department became the Child Study Center, which took a more environmental and psychoanalytic approach to child development. Milton J.E. Senn, a nationally prominent pediatrician, became the first director, serving until 1966. He expanded the training of psychiatrists and pediatricians in child development, and brought to Yale a series of investigators and teachers who became leaders in their fields.


Harkness Hall, 1955

The Medical School had considered plans to build a student dormitory and an auditorium as early as the 1930s. The Edward S. Harkness Memorial Hall, the residence hall for medical students, was completed in 1955. Named for Edward S. Harkness, one of Yale's greatest benefactors, the dormitory consists of one eleven- and one four-story building connected by a two-story structure containing a lounge and a dining facility. In 1996, the Harkness Memorial Hall was renovated and an expanded food service was added. Harkness Auditorium in Sterling Hall of Medicine, dedicated in 1961, was named for Mary S. Harkness, the wife of Edward S. Harkness.


Postgraduate and Continuing Medical Education

The Medical School had for many years had sponsored clinical refresher programs (Clinical Congresses) in conjunction with the Connecticut State Medical Society. In 1953, Arthur Ebbert became Assistant and then Associate Dean of Postgraduate Medical Education. On display is the course list for 1955-56.

This office was extended in 1975 to become the Office of Graduate and Continuing Medical Education. In 1978, James D. Kenney, a private practicing physician, was appointed associate dean for graduate and continuing education. Kenney reviewed and re-negotiated agreements with each of the Yale affiliated hospitals, which included continuing education of medical staff, undergraduate medical education, recruitment of faculty and medical staff, and multi-hospital research programs and referral networks. One of the most innovative programs initiated by Kenney was an examination program offering CME credits based on the contents of The Medical Letter, a well-known source of information about drugs and therapeutics. Today, the major goal of the Office is to offer courses of use to a broad range of the medical profession, from full-time practitioners to academic physicians.


History of Medicine at Yale in the 1950s: John F. Fulton, First Chair

The Department of History of Medicine was established in 1951. John F. Fulton (1899-1960), Sterling Professor of Physiology from 1929 to 1951, and a noted historian of science and medicine, served as Sterling Professor of History of Medicine and chair until his death in 1960.. During the 1960s, the department was expanded to encompass history of science as well as medicine. During the financial pressures of the early 1970s, the department was disbanded. Concerned about preserving the long tradition of history of medicine at Yale, a number of medical school faculty members persuaded Dean Robert W. Berliner to establish an autonomous section of History of Medicine. In 1979, Frederic L. Holmes was appointed professor of the section and Arthur J. Viseltear was appointed associate professor.


Veteran's Adminsitration Medical Center, 1953

The Veterans Administration Hospital, built in West Haven on the site of the former William Wirt Winchester Hospital, opened in 1953. It consisted of a 500-bed general medical and surgical building and a 400-bed tuberculosis building. Guided by a Dean's committee, the VA Hospital immediately began a close association with the Yale School of Medicine and has played a major role in the intern and residency training as well as the teaching of medical students at Yale. In 1966, the first hospital-based hemodialysis program in the state of Connecticut was started at the VA Hospital.


Medical Dames and Daily Teas

The Yale Medical Wives Association, also known as the Medical Dames, served tea every afternoon in the former lounge of Sterling Hall of Medicine and served as patrons of the annual Aesculapian Frolic sponsored by the first year medical class. From October 4 1954 to April 1, 1955, the total attendance at teas was 16,895. The teas are remembered fondly as part of an former era of graciousness and gentility, but they also recall a period when women's career opportunities were limited.


Hunter Radiation Therapy Center, 1958, Department of Radiology, 1958

The Hunter Radiation Therapy Center was dedicated in 1958. Named in memory of Mr. & Mrs. Edward S. Hunter, parents of Robert E. Hunter, Yale Class of 1911 (Sheffield), the four-story structure has its entrance on Davenport Avenue. High voltage equipment is located below ground level, while the street level floor contains facilities for ambulatory patients, laboratories, and the Tumor Registry. The two top floors provide additional office and laboratory space for the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics.

At the dedication ceremony were (left to right): Vernon W. Lippard, dean of the Yale School of Medicine, Lee Farr, Director of the Medical Institute of Brookhaven National Laboratories, who gave the main address, and Mrs. & Mrs. Robert E. Hunter.

The Department of Radiology was established in 1958. Before then radiological services were performed by staff radiologists whose academic appointments were in the Department of Surgery. In 1972, the Radiology split into two separate departments, Diagnostic Radiology and Therapeutic Radiology.


Yale School of Medicine Sesquicentennial, 1960

The School of Medicine celebrated its 150th anniversary of its founding charter in 1960. Shown here are the program and the speakers at the main celebration held at Sprague Hall on October 28, 1960. Left to right are Dean Vernon Lippard; Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut John Dempsey; John McK. Mitchell, representing the American Medical Association; Yale President A. Whitney Griswold; Sir Howard Florey who gave the keynote address, "Medical Science in the Twentieth Century"; and John N. Gallivan, representing the Connecticut State Medical Society.


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