sidebar menu icon

Saving Lives, Training Caregivers, Making Discoveries: A Centennial History of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Book Cover Image
Chester R. Burns (Author)


In 1881 the voting citizens of Texas located their state's first university medical school on an island in the Gulf of Mexico. Some probably wished to keep sick people away from the mainland. Others knew that residents of Galveston, then the state's largest city, had enthusiastically embraced the best traditions of American medicine throughout their city's history. Voters honored these efforts by granting permission to established the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), a feat that required ten years of struggles. The first medical students finally walked the steps of the Ashbel Smith Building (Old Red) in October 1891. More than one hundred years later, this pioneering institution is still flourishing as a major academic health center dedicated to saving lives, training caregivers, and making discoveries that improve health care.

Saving Lives, Training Caregivers, Making Discoveries is a comprehensive introduction to this institution's historical development. Grounded in meticulous archival research and oral history interviews, this book describes, explains, and interprets major features of human interaction that have propelled the growth and development of UTMB. These features include political networks, financial resources, campus buildings, care of sick patients, training of different types of caregivers, scientific research and humanities inquiry, patterns of daily life, extensive outreach commitments, and incessant concerns with maintaining the highest standards of academic medicine. Emphasis is given to the recurring interplay between key individuals and groups who shaped and changed the institution for more than ten decades. Numerous photos, tables, and appendices provide readers with visual and statistical evidence.

Chester R. Burns, M.D., Ph.D., was the James Wade Rockwell Professor of Medical History in the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He received a medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and a Ph.D. in medical history from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Burns was the author of more than one hundred publications dealing with the history of health care in Texas, the history of medical ethics, and the history of humanities education in medical schools. He was the advisory editor for the health and medicine entries in the New Handbook of Texas.