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Our History

Founded in 1846, the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is one of the oldest medical schools in the United States.

University Archives photograph of a Grand Rounds session at the Medical School.

A Grand Rounds session at the Medical School. Source: University Archives

Legendary founders

Our founding faculty are legends in the annals of American medicine:

  • James Platt White, a pioneer in obstetrics and gynecology who extended clinical teaching to include the demonstration of live birthing
  • Austin Flint, a renowned diagnostician and epidemiologist and president of the American Medical Association
  • Frank Hastings Hamilton, a preeminent surgeon who introduced the use of ether as an anesthetic in the Niagara Frontier and who served as the school’s first dean and chair of surgery

Establishment

The school was established when Buffalo was a boomtown on the Erie Canal and the gateway to the West.

Leading citizens—primarily physicians and lawyers—proposed that an institution of higher learning be established, which led to the founding of the private, nonsectarian University of Buffalo.

The Medical School, or Medical Department, as it was called, was the first decanal unit within the university, and 40 years passed before other departments were added.

Medical classes began February 24, 1847, with an enrollment of 66 students.

On the move

The medical school’s first permanent location was next to Buffalo General Hospital in downtown Buffalo.

In 1893, the school relocated to High Street in the city, where it remained until 1953, when it moved to its current location on the university’s South Campus.

In 1962, University of Buffalo merged with the State University of New York (SUNY) system. The Medical School then became the School of Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo.

In 2015, it become known as the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences — the first school naming in UB history — in recognition of the Jeremy M. Jacobs family’s longstanding philanthropy and service to UB.

A model system

Throughout its history, the university has not owned or operated a teaching hospital, but instead has instructed students in affiliated hospitals throughout the city.

Today’s network of teaching affiliations was formalized in 1983 as the Graduate Medical Dental Education Consortium of Buffalo. It offers students a wide range of clinical experiences and training opportunities, and has served as a national model for graduate medical education.

In 1987, the medical school’s name was changed to the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in recognition of the basic sciences underpinning medical knowledge. It was named the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 2015.

Today, the school enrolls 140 medical students each year, 110 doctoral students, 28 MD/PhD students, 65 master’s students and 445 undergraduates.

Landmark achievements

Photo of the Internal Pacemaker.

Invented at UB: the first successful implantable pacemaker.

Over the last century and a half, our faculty have made significant contributions to the advancement of the basic sciences and clinical care.

Notable among these accomplishments:

Paving the way for future physicians

At the start of the 21st century, our school’s clinical and basic-science strengths are evident in cardiovascular and neurologic disorders, ion-channel physiology and biophysics, retinal and cardiac electrophysiology, cellular and molecular signaling, computational biophysics and exercise physiology. Our Center for Single Molecule Biophysics and the Witebsky Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology enjoy national reputations.