Celebrating 130 Years

The University of Texas Medical Branch

On Oct. 5, 1891, the founding members of the University of Texas Medical Department met for the first time—in Old Red—with 23 medical students and 13 faculty members. True pioneers, they set out to change the course of Texas medicine, with a mission to improve health through education, research and patient care.

Little did they know that UTMB would become a bustling center for scientific inquiry, a training ground for the future of medicine, nursing, health professions and biomedical research, and a catalyst for improving the health of society.

UTMB’s story is one of resilience, of the never-ending drive for excellence, of innovation and collaboration. We mark this momentous 130th year and celebrate our rich history and legacy.


130th ANNIVERSARY Celebrations

We welcomed all Students, Faculty and Staff
to events hosted on all four campuses in October. 

We also visited offsite clinics & CMC throughout the month of October to mark the festivities 

and share commemorative lanyards & cookies.

Greetings & Proclamations

Proclamation from Gov. Greg Abbott
Joint State of Texas Resolution
State Resolution-Speaker Phelan
City of Galveston Proclamation
Letter from US Senator John Cornyn

UTMB Through the Ages

  • 1881

    Galveston chosen as site for University of Texas Medical Department by popular vote of state’s citizens

    1881-OLD-GALVESTON-AERIAL
  • 1884

    A $50,000 bequest from Galveston businessman John Sealy is designated for construction of a hospital in Galveston

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  • 1890

    John Sealy Hospital Training School for Nurses holds first classes

    John Sealy Hospital opens

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  • 1891

    Medical Department holds first session in the Ashbel Smith Building, named for the physician who advocated creation of the University of Texas and its medical department; building becomes known as “Old Red” for its ruddy granite, brick and sandstone exterior

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  • 1892

    Three men receive medical degrees from the Medical Department

  • 1894

    First women admitted to Medical Department

  • 1896

    Medical Department faculty helps construct first X-ray machine in Texas

    Training School for Nurses becomes part of Medical Department

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  • 1897

    Medical School expands to a four-year curriculum

    Medical Department graduates first woman

    Yellow fever is a major public health concern in Galveston, creating the need for infectious diseases expertise at the new Medical Department

  • 1899

    Medical Department heads smallpox quarantine camp on Galveston’s East Beach

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  • 1900

    The infamous 1900 Hurricane hits Galveston Island; despite damage, classes resume a short time later after Board of Regents decree: “The University of Texas stops for no storm”

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  • 1912

    First woman on faculty heads Department of Histology and Embryology

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  • 1913

    Medical Department’s Chair of Surgery is founding member and first vice president of American College of Surgeons

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  • 1917

    Medical Department raises entrance standards to require two years of college, up from four years of high school

  • 1918

    “Spanish flu” hits Galveston

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  • 1919

    Medical Department officially renamed The University of Texas Medical Branch

  • 1922

    The Sealy & Smith Foundation for the John Sealy Hospital chartered

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  • 1925

    Medical Laboratory Building opens

  • 1940

    American Board of Plastic Surgery founded by UTMB faculty

  • 1941

    John Sealy Hospital becomes a state facility operated by The University of Texas

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  • 1942

    UTMB graduates two medical classes in one year to meet demand for physicians during World War II

  • 1947

    UTMB mobilizes to care for victims of Texas City explosion; under direction of Dr. Truman Blocker, employs methods of triage learned from World War II

  • 1949

    Herman Barnett, UTMB’s first African-American medical student, enrolls

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  • 1952

    Biomedical graduate programs begin

  • 1954

    New John Sealy Hospital building opens

    R. Waverley Smith Memorial Pavilion opens

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  • 1962

    General Clinical Research Center opens

  • 1966

    First Shriners Burns Institute dedicated on UTMB campus

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  • 1967

    Dr. Truman Blocker becomes UTMB’s first president

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  • 1968

    School of Allied Health Sciences established

    Jennie Sealy Hospital dedicated

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  • 1969

    Marine Biomedical Institute established

    Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences established

  • 1971

    Libbie Moody Thompson Basic Science Building completed

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  • 1972

    Moody Medical Library opens

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  • 1973

    Institute for the Medical Humanities established

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  • 1974

    Dr. William C. Levin becomes UTMB's second president

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  • 1978

    Current John Sealy Hospital tower opens

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  • 1983

    Texas Department of Criminal Justice Hospital opens on the UTMB campus

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  • 1987

    Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Training in International Health established

    Dr. Thomas N. James becomes UTMB's third president

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  • 1989

    Regional Maternal and Child Health Program sees first patient

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  • 1992

    Sealy Center for Molecular Sciences established

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  • 1994

    Correctional Managed Care contract with Texas Department of Criminal Justice begins

    UTMB conducts its first telehealth consultation

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  • 1995

    UTMB’s Center for Tropical Diseases designated a World Health Organization Collaborating Center

    UTMB acquires World Reference Center for Arboviruses

    Sealy Center for Structural Biology established

    Sealy Center for Cancer Cell Biology established

  • 1996

    Lee Hage Jamail Student Center opens

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    Primary Care Pavilion opens

    UTMB’s Center on Aging named a Sealy Center

  • 1997

    UTMB receives federal biodefense grant

    Dr. John D. Stobo becomes UTMB's fourth president

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  • 1999

    UTMB designated a Level I Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons

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  • 2000

    UT System approves construction of Biosafety Level 4 lab on the UTMB campus

    2000-Biosafety-Level-4-lab-dedicated-as-John-Sealy-Pavilion-for-Infectious-Dis

    Acute Care for Elders (ACE) Unit opens in John Sealy Hospital; later named among the best such units in the country for patient satisfaction

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  • 2001

    John P. McGovern Academy of Oslerian Medicine inaugurated at UTMB

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    Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases announced

    Sealy Center for Vaccine Development established

  • 2002

    School of Nursing graduates first Ph.D. students

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  • 2003

    UTMB designated as lead institution for Western Center of Excellence for Infectious Diseases Research by the National Institutes of Health

    UTMB chosen as site of one of only two proposed national biocontainment laboratories

    Biosafety Level 4 laboratory facility dedicated as John Sealy Pavilion for Infectious Diseases Research

    Telemedicine program logs its 100,000th consultation since its inception

  • 2004

    George and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research established

    Institute for Human Infections and Immunity established

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  • 2005

    Galveston National Laboratory groundbreaking

  • 2007

    Dr. David L. Callender becomes the fifth UTMB president

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    The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences becomes the first public institution in Texas to offer a doctoral degree in clinical science

  • 2008

    Galveston National Laboratory opens as one of only two National Biocontainment Laboratories established by the NIH

    The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases awards $10.9 million contract to UTMB to establish the Clinical Proteomics Center for Infectious Diseases and Biodefense

    The Department of Physical Therapy offers doctoral degree in physical therapy

    Hurricane Ike hits UTMB Galveston Campus on Sept. 13

    2008-Hurricane Ike

    UTMB opens four mainland clinics in first week after storm

    UTMB delivers its first baby since Hurricane Ike in October

  • 2009

    Governor Perry signs legislation authorizing recovery funding for UTMB

    UTMB begins massive Hurricane Ike Recovery Projects totaling $947M; designed to make the campus more resilient and to preserve mission-critical education, research and patient care operations

    Blocker Burn Unit reopens for adult patients in January

    UTMB re-opens John Sealy Hospital as full-service facility with 200 beds in January

    NIH awards UTMB prestigious $21.5M Clinical Translational Sciences Award

    UTMB’s Emergency Room re-opens as a Level III trauma center in August; faculty, staff and administrators begin working toward Level I re-designation

  • 2010

    UTMB launches new brand identity, new logo and tagline “Working Together to Work Wonders”

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    UTMB becomes a full member institution of the Texas Medical Center

    UTMB receives over $4 million in funding for cancer research

    NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute awards UTMB $11 million to study conditions associated with airway inflammation

  • 2011

    UTMB ED is re-designated as a Level 1 Trauma Center, 1 of 3 in the greater Houston area

    2011-ERpad

    Researchers awarded $4.8 million to develop Argentine hemorrhagic fever vaccine

    Texas Legislature approves necessary funding to build new hospital, continue Ike recovery

    Researchers receive $3 million NIH grant to study aging in Mexico

    The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approves Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program for UTMB’s School of Nursing

    UTMB researchers awarded $7.8 million by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study effects of BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

    Researchers develop new candidate vaccine to protect against chikungunya virus

    NIH awards $1.7 million for research to fight plague

    Board of Regents approves new Jennie Sealy Hospital; The Sealy & Smith Foundation pledges $170 million

  • 2012

    UTMB breaks ground for new Jennie Sealy Hospital on Galveston Campus

    2012-JennieSealyGroundBreaking

    UTMB selected to manage Center for Polar Medical Operations

    2012-PolarOps

    The Moody Foundation of Galveston pledges $9 million to support traumatic brain injury research at UTMB

  • 2014

    UTMB enters into formal relationship with Angleton Danbury Medical Center, establishing UTMB Angleton Danbury Campus

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    UTMB named a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Vaccine Research, Evaluation and Training on Emerging Infectious Diseases—only the second university named in the Western Hemisphere

    UTMB researchers announce effective treatment against Ebola virus

    Time magazine’s 2014 Person of the Year is not one but many—the Ebola fighters—and spotlights UTMB’s Thomas Geisbert

    2014-ThomasGeisbert
  • 2015

    The UTMB fall semester begins with 3,200 students and nearly 900 faculty members; enrollment increased 42% since 2006

    The Sealy & Smith Foundation provides $75 million to renovate both the interior and exterior of John Sealy Hospital

    2016-JohnSealyRendering

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services names UTMB a regional treatment center for patients with Ebola or other highly infectious diseases

    2014-Ebola-virus

    The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center partners with UTMB to construct outpatient cancer center on the UTMB League City Campus

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    School of Health Professions graduates first master’s degree in nutrition students

    2015-SHP-1stMastersinNutrition
  • 2016

    The 125th Anniversary of UTMB

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    Opening of new Jennie Sealy Hospital

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    Opening of new hospital on UTMB League City Campus

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  • 2017

    Hurricane Harvey stalls near the upper Texas coast, dropping more than 40 inches of rain in a 4-day period and causing catastrophic flooding across UTMB’s service area.

    Helicopter near UTMB Water Tower
  • 2018

    The Sealy Institute for Vaccine Sciences is announced, evolving from what had been the Sealy Center for Vaccine Development. The institute will play a pivotal role in the coming years.

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  • 2019

    UTMB’s Clear Lake Campus Hospital opens in Webster and begins to serve patients in the Clear Lake area.

    Nighttime image of building

    UTMB welcomes its first students in the five-story, $91.6 million Health Education Center, a new advanced learning environment.

    glass art in interior of building

    Dr. Ben Raimer, who has held numerous academic and administrative positions during a UTMB career spanning three decades, is appointed president ad interim. 

    Photo of UTMB president ad interim Ben G. Raimer
  • 2020

    COVID-19 is declared a pandemic. UTMB researchers are already hard at work on the mysterious new virus. UTMB will serve key roles regionally and nationally, as a reference source for the virus, in developing COVID testing and later, in testing the effectiveness of vaccine options.

    UTMB completes the renovation of 220,000 square feet of the John Sealy Hospital to serve women, infants and children. The major project was generously funded by The Sealy and Smith Foundation.

    Rendition of John Sealy Tower Renovations

    The Department of Neurosurgery is established, having formerly been a division in the Department of Surgery. Dr. Peter Kan is the department’s first chairman.

    The League City Campus Hospital expansion is completed, adding a new five-story patient tower with 60 new patient beds and needed support areas.

    Rendering of new wing

    UTMB received and began administering the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to its “first tier” healthcare workers. In the months that follow, the university and its partners will lead efforts to provide vaccinations in the region.

  • 2021

    Winter Storm Uri slams into Texas with record low temperatures, taking out the power grid across large areas and creating water supply issues due to frozen pipes. UTMB perseveres.

    The opening of the Dave Bleakney Building in Angleton, a large primary and specialty care center developed in collaboration with the Angleton-Danbury Hospital District, caps a period of growth and ongoing commitment for UTMB in Brazoria County.

    Entrance of building

    UT Board of Regents and the Council on Education for Public Health grant approval to open a UTMB School of Public and Population Health.

    UTMB celebrates its 130 anniversary.