Michigan and the Great Lakes

Medicine at Michigan

A History of the University of Michigan Medical School at the Bicentennial
Dea H. Boster and Joel D. Howell


A trailblazer in American medical education since 1850, the Medical School at the University of Michigan was the first program in the United States to own and operate its own hospital and the earliest major medical school to admit women. In the late nineteenth century, the School emerged as a frontrunner in modern scientific medical education in the United States, and one of the first in the nation to implement both required clinical clerkships and laboratory science as part of their curriculum, including the first full laboratory course in bacteriology. Decades later, the Medical School remained at the vanguard of medical education by increasing its focus on research, and these efforts resulted in world-changing breakthroughs such as field-testing the first safe polio vaccine, proposing a genetic mechanism for sickle cell anemia, inventing the fiber-optic endoscope, and cloning the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis. The Medical School’s history is not without its growing pains: alongside top-tier education and incredible innovation came times of stress with the broader University and Ann Arbor communities, complex expectations and realities for student diversity, and many controversies over curriculum and methodology. Medicine at Michigan explores how the School has dealt with changes in medical science, practice, and social climates over the past 150 years and illuminates the complicated interactions between economic, social, and cultural trends and medical education at the University of Michigan and across the nation. This book will appeal to readers interested in the history of medicine as well as current and former medical faculty members, students, and employees of the University of Michigan Medical School.

 “Medicine at Michigan is a highly readable and outstanding addition to the scholarship on the development and accomplishments of the University of Michigan Medical School. Michigan has a history worth telling and these two scholars have done it well. I believe that this book may serve as a model for similar explorations by other academic medical centers. Bravo!”
—Mindy Schwartz, University of Chicago
Dea H. Boster is Professor of History at Columbus State Community College.

Joel D. Howell is Victor C. Vaughan Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.

Praise / Awards

  • "Medicine at Michigan is a very useful account of the evolution of a small town state university medical school into a major provider of health care in its state."
    --Journal of the History of Medicine
  • "This book provides an engaging history of a major institution in the state of Michigan. Some of the ideas and events from the early years may seem quaint and old-fashioned, but this work sheds light on a range of issues that remain critically important today. . . Medicine at Michigan should reach a broad audience and help inform current debates." 
    Michigan Historical Review
  • "Boster and Howell have a great deal that is positive to say about the Medical School at the University of Michigan, but they successfully avoid relying on a drumbeat of constant praise, straightforwardly discussing periods in the school’s history when tensions arose or a change in direction or focus was deemed necessary. The ups and downs are treated matter-of-factly—and instructively."
    Bulletin of the History of Medicine

News, Reviews, Interviews

Watch: Joel Howell lecture "150 Years of University Hospitals" at Michigan Medicine Link | 12/12/2019

Product Details

  • 264 pages.
  • 42 images.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2017
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12342-1

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  • University of Michigan, Medical school, medicine, education, bicentennial