Informatics Educational Institutions & Programs

Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania logo
Other name
Penn Med
TypeMedical school
Established1765 (1765)[1]
Parent institution
University of Pennsylvania
AffiliationUniversity of Pennsylvania Health System[1]
DeanJonathan A. Epstein (interim)
Academic staff
2,100 (full-time)[1]
1,200 (residents and fellows)[1]
Administrative staff
Students775 M.D. students
594 Ph.D. students
186 M.D.-Ph.D. students
329 masters students
704 post-doctoral fellows[1]
Location, ,

39°56′51″N 75°11′32″W / 39.947454°N 75.192356°W / 39.947454; -75.192356

The Perelman School of Medicine, commonly known as Penn Med,[citation needed] is the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania, one of seven Ivy League medical schools in the United States. The medical school is based in Philadelphia. Founded in 1765, it was the first medical school in the United States.[2]


18th century

In 1765, John Morgan, known as the founder of medical instruction in America, founded the University of Pennsylvania Medical School as the nation's first medical school
An admission ticket to "A Course of Lectures" given in 1765 by John Morgan, the first professor of medicine and founder of Penn's Medical School
A ticket to a lecture given by Penn Medical School professor Benjamin Rush, a Founding Father and physician
A portrait of William Shippen Jr., co-founder of Penn's Medical School, by Charles Wilson Peale and Gilbert Stuart[3]

The school of medicine was founded by John Morgan, a graduate of the College of Philadelphia, later renamed the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Edinburgh Medical School.[4] After training in Edinburgh and other European cities, Morgan returned to Philadelphia in 1765. With fellow University of Edinburgh Medical School graduate William Shippen Jr., Morgan persuaded the college's trustees to found the first medical school in the original Thirteen Colonies. Shortly before the medical school's creation, Morgan delivered an address titled "Upon the Institution of Medical Schools in America," addressed to the trustees and the citizens of Philadelphia, in which he expressed his desire for the new medical school to become a model institution, saying,[5]

"Perhaps this medical institution, the first of its kind in America, though small in its beginning, may receive a constant increase of strength, and annually exert new vigor. It may collect a number of young persons of more ordinary abilities, and so improve their knowledge as to spread its reputation to different parts. By sending these abroad duly qualified, or by exciting an emulation amongst men of parts and literature, it may give birth to other useful institutions of a similar nature, or occasional rise, by its example to numerous societies of different kinds, calculated to spread the light of knowledge through the whole American continent, wherever inhabited".[6]

That autumn, students enrolled for "anatomical lectures" and a course on "the theory and practice of physick." Modeling the school after the University of Edinburgh Medical School, medical lectures were supplemented with bedside teaching at the Pennsylvania Hospital.[7]

The School of Medicine's early faculty included nationally prominent physicians and scientists such as Benjamin Rush, Philip Syng Physick, William Shippen Jr.,[8] and Robert Hare.

In addition to being a Penn professor of chemistry, medical theory, and clinical practice, Dr. Benjamin Rush served as a key figure in the American Revolution as a Founding Father, signatory to the United States Declaration of Independence, and member of the Continental Congress.[9]

19th century

In the mid-19th century, notable faculty members included William Pepper, Joseph Leidy, and Nathaniel Chapman (founding president of the American Medical Association).[10] William Osler and Howard Atwood Kelly, two of the "founding four" physicians of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore were drawn from Penn's medical faculty.

20th century

In 1910, the landmark Flexner Report on medical education reviewed Penn as one of the relatively few medical schools of the era with high standards in admission criteria, medical instruction, and research facilities.[11]

21st century

In 2011, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine was renamed to the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in recognition of a $225 million gift by Raymond and Ruth Perelman. Raymond and his son, Ronald Perelman, are both alumni of Penn's Wharton School.[12] It was the single largest gift made in the university's history, and it remains the largest donation ever made for naming rights to a medical school.[13]

Campus and teaching hospitals

Penn Med and CHOP facilities
Medical and research facilities of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Between 1765 and 1801, medical school lectures were held in Surgeon's Hall on 5th Street in Center City Philadelphia. In 1801, medical instruction moved with the rest of the university to 9th Street.[14] In the 1870s, the university moved across the Schuylkill River to a location in West Philadelphia. As part of this move, the medical faculty persuaded the university trustees to construct a teaching hospital adjacent to the new academic facilities.[15] As a result, Penn's medical school and flagship teaching hospital form part of the university's main campus and are located in close proximity to the university's other schools and departments. Although they are independent institutions, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Wistar Institute are also located on or adjacent to Penn's campus.

The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Pennsylvania Hospital, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia serve as the medical school's main teaching hospitals. Additional teaching takes place at Chester County Hospital, Lancaster General Hospital, and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.[16][17][18]

Medical advancements

The Agnew Clinic
The Agnew Clinic, an 1889 portrait by Thomas Eakins showing a mastectomy being performed in the clinic of Penn surgeon David Hayes Agnew. The painting is notable for showing the increasing specialization of surgical techniques and accessories in the late 19th century.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the School of Medicine was one of the earliest to encourage the development of the emerging medical specialties: neurosurgery, ophthalmology, dermatology, and radiology. Between 1910 and 1939, the chairman of the Department of Pharmacology, Alfred Newton Richards, played a significant role in developing the university as an authority of medical science, helping the U.S. to catch up with European medicine and begin to make significant advances in biomedical science.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Jonathan Rhoads of the Department of Surgery, which he would later go on to head for many years, mentored Stanley Dudrick who pioneered the successful use of total parenteral nutrition (TPN) for patients unable to tolerate nutrition through their GI tract.[19]

In the 1980s and 1990s, C. William Schwab, a trauma surgeon, led numerous advances in the concept of damage control surgery for severely injured trauma patients.[20]

In the 1990s and 2000s, Paul Offit, a professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, lead the scientific advances behind the modern RotaTeq vaccine for infectious childhood diarrhea.

In 2006, Drs. Kaplan and Shore of the Department of Orthopedics discovered the causative mutation in fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, an extremely rare disease of bone.[21]

Medical curriculum

Benchmark changes in the understanding of medical science and the practice of medicine have necessitated that the school change its methods of teaching, as well as its curriculum. Large changes were made in 1968, 1970, 1981, 1987, and 1997. The last significant change in 2022 brought about the institution of the IMPaCT curriculum, "an integrated, multidisciplinary curriculum which emphasizes small group instruction, self-directed learning and flexibility." Three themes, Science of Medicine, Technology and Practice of Medicine, and Professionalism and Humanism, were developed by focus groups consisting of department chairpersons, course directors, and students.[22]

Biomedical Graduate Studies

Biomedical Graduate Studies, contained within the Perelman School of Medicine, was established in 1985 and serves as the academic home within the University of Pennsylvania for roughly 700 students pursuing a PhD in the basic biomedical sciences. BGS consists of more than 600 faculty members across seven Penn schools and several associated institutes including Wistar Institute, Fox Chase Cancer Center, and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.[23] There are seven graduate programs, labeled by the school as "graduate groups," that lead to a Ph.D. in basic biomedical sciences.[24]

All biomedical graduate studies students receive a stipend in addition to a full fellowship and tend to receive the degree within a median time frame of 5.4 years.[25] There is also the option for students to pursue an additional certificate in medicine, public health, and environmental health sciences.[26] Each graduate group has its own admission policy and training mission, and hence curriculum greatly varies.[23]


The Perelman School of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) comprise "Penn Medicine". Penn Medicine is an organizational structure designed to integrate Penn's clinical, educational, and research functions. Penn Medicine is governed by a board of trustees which in turn reports to the trustees of the university. Kevin B. Mahoney serves as CEO of UPHS while J. Larry Jameson serves as Dean of Medicine and Executive Vice President of the health system.[27][28][29]


The School of Medicine has departments in the following basic science subjects: Biochemistry and Biophysics, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Cancer Biology, Cell and Developmental Biology, Genetics, Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, and Physiology. The school also has departments in the following clinical practices: Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Dermatology, Emergency Medicine, Family Practice and Community Medicine, Medicine, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ophthalmology (See Scheie Eye Institute), Orthopaedic Surgery, Otorhinolaryngology, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Pediatrics (See Children's Hospital of Philadelphia), Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Psychiatry, Radiation Oncology, Radiology, and Surgery.[30]

Centers and institutes

The Perelman School of Medicine, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania Health System, has contained within it many centers and institutes dealing with clinical medicine, clinical research, basic science research, and translational research.[31]

Notable alumni

Among the noteworthy alumni referenced in Wikipedia entry accessible via above link are 4 graduates and/or faculty members who were awarded the Nobel Prize, 2 alumni who were awarded the Medal of Honor, and hundreds of alumni (in chronological order starting from very first 18th century graduating class) who contributed to the health and well-being of Earth.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Overview". Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  2. ^ "University of Pennsylvania". World Digital Library. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  3. ^ An Account of the late Dr. John Morgan. Delivered before the Trustees and Students of Medicine in the College of Philadelphia on the 28th of November, 1789, by Benjamin Rush, M. D.
  4. ^ Carson, Joseph (1869). A History of the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Lindsay and Blakiston. p. 44. LCCN 08007557. OCLC 2340581.
  5. ^ Thorpe, Francis M. (July 1985). "The University of Pennsylvania". Harper's Magazine. p. 289. Archived from the original (Magazine) on 30 November 2018. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  6. ^ Morgan, John (1765). A Discourse upon the Institution of Medical Schools in America. Philadelphia: William Bradford. LCCN 07027987. OCLC 62815747.
  7. ^ Nitzsche, George Erazmus (1918). University of Pennsylvania: its history, traditions, buildings and memorials (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: International Printing Company. p. 13.
  8. ^ "William Shippen Jr. (1736–1808)". Penn Biographies. University of Pennsylvania, University Archives and Records Center. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  9. ^ Renker, Elizabeth M. (1989). "'Declaration–Men' and the Rhetoric of Self-Presentation". Early American Literature. 24 (2): 123 and n. 10 there. JSTOR 25056766.
  10. ^ Frances Gurney Smith; John B. Biddle, eds. (1853). The Medical examiner, and record of medical science, Volume 9. Philadelphia, PA: Lindsay & Blakiston. pp. 532–5. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  11. ^ Flexner, Abraham (1910). Medical Education in the United States and Canada: A Report to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Boston, MA: Merrymount Press. p. 293. ISBN 9780598798206.
  12. ^ "Penn Gets $225 Million for Its School of Medicine". The New York Times. 11 May 2011.
  13. ^ "Raymond and Ruth Perelman Donate $225 Million to the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine". Archived from the original on 2016-01-13. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
  14. ^ "Penn Campuses Before 1900". Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  15. ^ "School of Medicine, A Brief History". University of Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2011.
  16. ^ "Teaching Facilities". Perelman School of Medicine. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  17. ^ "Medical Student Elective Rotations". Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 30 March 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  18. ^ "About the Philadelphia VA Medical Center". U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  19. ^ "Death of Dr. Jonathan Rhoads, A Preeminent Penn Paragon". University of Pennsylvania Almanac. 8 January 2002. Retrieved November 25, 2011.
  20. ^ "C. William Schwab, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.R.C.S. Traumatology, Surgical Critical Care and Emergency Surgery". Penn Medicine.
  21. ^ Shore, EM (May 2006). "A recurrent mutation in the BMP type I receptor ACVR1 causes inherited and sporadic fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva". Nature Genetics. 38 (5): 525–7. doi:10.1038/ng1783. PMID 16642017. S2CID 41579747.
  22. ^ "Penn | School of Medicine | History of the School". Archived from the original on 2005-04-02. Retrieved 2005-06-13.
  23. ^ a b "About". Biomedical Graduate Studies. University of Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on 2 November 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  24. ^ "BGS Overview". Biomedical Graduate Studies. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  25. ^ National Research Council (US) Committee on an Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs; Ostriker, J. P.; Kuh, C. V.; Voytuk, J. A. (2011). A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States. The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/12994. ISBN 978-0-309-16030-8. PMID 22379653. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  26. ^ "Certificate". Biomedical Graduate Studies. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  27. ^ "Penn Medicine Board".
  28. ^ Robertson, Campbell; Corkery, Michael (2023-12-12). "Medical School Dean Is Chosen to Lead Penn as Interim President". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2024-05-08.
  29. ^ Scolnick, Emily; Bartlett, Katie; Seshadri, Nitin (12 December 2023). "Perelman School of Medicine Dean J. Larry Jameson named Penn's interim president". The Daily Pennsylvanian. Retrieved 2024-05-08.
  30. ^ "Departments". Perelman School of Medicine. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  31. ^ "Centers and Institutes". Perelman School of Medicine. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 28 October 2011.

External links