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UMMS History

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The University of Massachusetts Medical School, A History: Integrating Primary Care and Biomedical Research
Ellen S. More

When an all-male class of 16 students entered the new University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1970, they might well have wondered whether they were making a huge mistake. Undoubtedly they took an enormous risk. The entire school—faculty, students, staff, laboratories, offices and classrooms—was housed in a small converted warehouse. The faculty probably had their doubts as well. Not so Dr. Lamar Soutter, the school’s founding dean and guiding spirit. No matter how many times the state legislature threatened to withhold the school’s funding, or how many governors threatened to shut it down altogether, Soutter knew he could outlast them all.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School, chartered in 1962 and opened in 1970, was one of a cohort of medical schools founded in response to fears of a physician shortage. In Massachusetts, this translated into a call for more opportunities for the state’s students to attend an affordable school where, it was hoped, they would deliver primary care to the people of their home state. Yet, Dean Soutter and the original faculty, most of whom were basic scientists recruited from Boston medical schools, were equally devoted to basic research and tertiary care medicine. This book tells the story of the school’s struggle, and eventual success in reconciling the demands of primary care education with world-class research. Part 1, published in 2012, tells the sometimes raucous story of the politics attendant on bringing the school from legislative enactment to actual groundbreaking, a process lasting more than 20 years. Part 2, to be published in 2015, will assess the development of the school’s educational, clinical and research initiatives.

Author biography

Ellen S. More, Ph.D. is a historian of medicine specializing in the history of the medical profession and medical education. She is the author or editor of three previous books, including Restoring the Balance: Women Physicians and the Profession of Medicine, 1850-1995 (Harvard), winner of the Rossiter Prize from the History of Science Society, and Women Physicians and the Cultures of Medicine (Johns Hopkins), co-edited with Elizabeth Fee and Manon Parry, winner of the Best Publication award from the Archivists and Librarians of the History of the Health Sciences. She was the Visiting Curator for the National Library of Medicine exhibition “Changing the Face of Medicine.” She is the head of the Office of Medical History and Archives of the UMass Medical School Lamar Soutter Library, and Professor of Psychiatry.