American statesman Benjamin Franklin helps open Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first, setting in motion Philadelphia’s role in medical innovation.
The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine becomes the first medical school in the 13 American colonies.
Philadelphia physician John Otto publishes a study tracing the history of several family “bleeders,” thus identifying hemophilia.
Friends Hospital opens as the nation’s first exclusively mental hospital.
Seen as a marvel, the Fairmount Water Works gives Philadelphia a supply of uncontaminated drinking water to protect public health and prevent epidemics.
The nation’s first college of pharmacy opens as Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, now University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. The school helps establish Philadelphia as a premiere pharmaceutical center. The founders of Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, McNeil Labs, and others go there.
Wills Eye becomes the country’s first eye hospital. It thrives today, treating and managing half of all the retinoblastoma cases in the U.S.
The world’s first medical school for women opens (Female Medical College of Pennsylvania).
It became Medical College of Pennsylvania, and now is part of Drexel College of Medicine.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia becomes the nation’s first medical center for children.
Wistar Insitute, the nation’s first independent biomedical-research facility, opens. It grows into a hotbed for vaccine development, among other advances.
Albert Barnes establishes a firm to make drugs including Argyrol, a silver-based compound that fights infections. His drug fortune finances a legendary art collection and museum that is now relocating to Philadelphia.
Wistar creates the first standardized laboratory animal. WISTARAT is the actual trademark.
Charles Bailey of Hahnemann University Hospital performs the world’s first successful heart surgery, cutting open the chest to repair a mitral valve.
John H. Gibbon Jr. of Jefferson conceives and develops (but refuses patent rights on) the world’s first successful heart-lung machine.
Researchers Peter Nowell at Penn and David Hungerford at Fox Chase discover the Philadelphia chromosome — an abnormal chromosome found in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). The discovery has led to targeted therapies for cancer, including imatinib (sold as Gleevec), which keeps many CML patients alive.
Microbiologist Maurice R. Hilleman swabs the throat of his daughter, Jeryl Lynn, 5, and uses it to isolate the mumps virus. Hilleman and his team at Merck’s West Point, Pa., plant go on to create nearly 40 vaccines, including nine typically given to children. Hilleman is credited with saving more lives than anyone in history.
The Monell Chemical Senses Center in West Philadelphia is chartered. It’s the world’s only independent institute for basic research on the senses of taste and smell.
The nonprofit now called ECRI Institute in Plymouth Meeting opens. It evaluates medical procedures, devices, drugs, and processes to improve patient care.
Stanley Plotkin, working at Wistar, develops the rubella (German measles) vaccine after a large U.S. outbreak.
Jonathan E. Rhoads and Stanley J. Dudrick at Penn develop intravenous nutrients to sustain patients who are unable to eat.
Jefferson professor Norman Lasker invents the Jefferson Cycler, the first at-home self-treatment device for dialysis patients.
Wistar first patents a method for creating monoclonal antibodies, which lead to many of the targeted therapies seen today.
After the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office reports 118 heat-related deaths — far more than in other cities — based not just on the body’s temperature when found but on environmental factors such as closed windows and no air-conditioning, a federal review agrees, and guidelines change around the country.
Alfred G. Knudson Jr. of Fox Chase wins the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award for his “two-hit” hypothesis, which explains how multiple genetic mutations, whether inherited or accumulated, are necessary to cause cancer.
Malvern-based Centocor, which entrepreneur Hubert J.P. Shoemaker helped found in 1979, is bought by pharma giant Johnson & Johnson for $4.9 billion. Centocor had created Remicade, one of the best-selling drugs the biotechnology industry has ever made. Shoemaker of Paoli, who died in 2006, mentored many local entrepreneurs.
Fox Chase’s Irwin Rose shares the Nobel Prize in chemistry with two Israelis for showing how proteins are broken down and recycled. Their discoveries form the basis for Velcade, a drug approved for multiple myeloma, which afflicts white blood cells in the bone marrow.
The Food and Drug Administration approves a Merck vaccine, RotaTeq, developed by Children’s Hospital professors Fred Clark and Paul Offit and Wistar professor emeritus Stanley Plotkin.
Emmanuel Skordalakes is the first to decode the structure of telomerase, the enzyme that conserves the telomeres at the ends of our chromosomes and has broad implications in both cancer (where the enzyme is overacting) and aging (where the enzyme tends to be far less effective).
Penn’s Jean Bennett and Al Maguire and Children’s Kathy High used gene therapy to restore sight to patients with a type of congenital blindness.
Daniel Skovronsky, 37, sells Avid Radiopharmaceuticals Inc., the University City company he founded in 2005, to Eli Lilly & Co. for up to $800 million. Avid’s main product was a diagnostic tool for Alzheimer’s disease.
Beatrice Mintz of Fox Chase wins the Albert Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research for investigating how cancers progress. Years ago, she produced the first genetically modified mice.