A Note from Ross Hall

Dean Barbara Bass

Dear colleagues and friends,

It is an honor for me to present the Spring 2024 edition of Medicine + Health, the first issue of our Bicentennial Celebration.

As the first medical school in the nation’s capital and the 11th oldest in the country, the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) has been at the forefront of medical education — training generations of compassionate health care professionals for 200 years.

Medicine was one of the original programs listed in the university’s charter signed by President James Monroe on Feb. 9, 1821, establishing GW’s foundational institution, The Columbian College. On Sept. 21, 1824, after hearing appeals from two medical professors, the GW Trustees rapidly organized the creation of the new department. By-laws and regulations were adopted on Oct. 19, with lectures for the medical department’s new students beginning on March 30, 1825. Corresponding with these key dates, our Bicentennial Celebration will close on March 30, 2025, which not only marks the exact 200th anniversary of student learning, it will also be National Doctors’ Day.

This edition of the magazine explores the timeline of our rich history in concert with U.S. history — from national triumphs, to tragedies, to the challenging times we are living in now. The pages that follow also showcase how we are currently making a significant impact on the Washington, D.C., community and beyond through medicine, education, and discovery.

I would like to use this opportunity to emphasize the discovery piece, especially since GW earned membership into the Association of American Universities (AAU) this past year, landing the institution a place among just 69 public and private universities in the United States, as well as two in Canada, making GW one of the most distinguished research universities in North America. SMHS is an increasingly substantial driver of GW’s federal expenditures. Our school represents nearly 30% of the university’s total research, and in the first half of fiscal year 2024 there has been a 20% increase in both total research and federal expenditures at SMHS. As an academic medical enterprise, it is vital that our work is informed by science — by top quality research. Advancing knowledge through research is essential to providing a world-class education for our students as well as superb patient-centered care.

In addition, our scholarly achievements are helping us attract and retain talented faculty, staff, students, and friends to keep our momentum going through great work. From Vsevolod Polotsky, MD, investigating sleep-disordered breathing, to the MGNet research team exploring Myasthenia Gravis, to Robert Turner II, PhD, addressing the effects of repetitive head impacts and traumatic brain injury, you will see great examples of this demonstrated in this issue of the magazine.

As we begin our third century, I hope you will join us in Washington, D.C., (or online) for at least one of our special Bicentennial events. Please visit the Bicentennial section of the SMHS website for the latest event information, which can be found at bicentennial.smhs.gwu.edu.

It is my sincere hope that you will always remain engaged with our remarkable and dedicated community.

Warmest Regards,

Barbara Bass Signature

Barbara Lee Bass, MD, RESD ’86, FACS
Professor of Surgery,
Walter A. Bloedorn Chair of Administrative Medicine,
Vice President for Health Affairs, and Dean, SMHS


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