UTMB School of Medicine Founders

The History of the UTMB John Sealy School of Medicine

Founded as the state's first medical school in 1891, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) has served the health care needs of Texans for more than a century with outstanding programs in health science education, patient care, and research.

Ashbel_Smith_Building_UTMB_Galveston_vintageThe University of Texas Medical Branch's Ashbel Smith building, which appears to the left and is affectionately known as Old Red, has played a vital role in the history of UTMB. Completed in 1890, and built in the Romanesque Revival style, its colorful nickname comes from the materials it is made from - red pressed brick, red Texas granite, and sandstone.

As the oldest medical school building in Texas, Old Red is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and marked with a Texas Historical Commission placard. Old Red has truly earned its landmark status by surviving the Galveston hurricane of 1900, one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. Although the storm destroyed much of Old Red's original roof, the main structure remained standing. Today, Old Red continues to serve thousands of UTMB students, faculty, staff, and visitors and currently houses administrative offices, the School of Medicine's Alumni Association office, a teaching amphitheater, the Institute for the Medical Humanities, and the anatomy laboratory used in the training of future physicians.

Shriners_Hospital,_GalvestonOver the past 130 years, UTMB has conferred more than 25,000 degrees to students in medicine, nursing, biomedical sciences, and the allied health sciences. From its small beginnings as one hospital and one school with 23 students, UTMB today consists of six hospitals, four schools with 2,500 students and residents, an extensive network of campus- and community-based clinics, a Level I trauma center, two institutes, an affiliated Shriners Burns Hospital, seen to the left, and state-of-the-art research facilities. UTMB has been ranked the nation's top producer of medical degrees for Latinos and second-highest producer of medical degrees for African Americans from 2000 to 2021, per reporting by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Galveston_National_Laboratory_at_UTMBIn 2003 UTMB received funding to construct a $150 million Galveston National Biocontainment Laboratory on its campus, one of the few non-military facilities of this level. It houses several Biosafety Level 4 research laboratories, where studies on highly infectious materials can be carried out safely.

Areas of clinical excellence provided for all Texans include geriatrics, cardiac services, diabetes care, kidney disease, telemedicine, and behavioral health. UTMB's nationally recognized and growing research programs focus on biodefense and infectious diseases, vaccine development, aging and longevity, neuroscience, molecular medicine, environmental health, asthma, gastrointestinal health, cancer, and diabetes.

Past Deans

Past Deans

  • Dean John Fannin Young Paine, MD
    Dean John Fannin Young Paine1891-1897

    John Fannin Young Paine received his medical degree from Tulane in 1861. He practiced in Mobile, Alabama for a short time, then accepted the Chair and Professor of Obstetrics at the Texas Medical College in Galveston, the first medical teaching institution in Texas. He also was Dean of this school until 1881 when the Medical College disbanded. He then went to Tulane. In 1886 he came back to Galveston and organized the Medical Branch of Texas University and accepted the Professorship of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He was President of the Texas Medical Association in 1888.)
  • Dean Allen J. Smith, MD
    Dean Allen J Smith1897-1898 & 1901-1903

    Dr. Allen J. Smith had already discovered the Bacillus coeruleus (pseudomonas smithii) and had won the Medical News prize and other anatomical prizes when he arrived in Galveston in September of 1891 with his wife and two year old son. Upon being told that his chair was to be called "pathology, bacteriology, and microscopy," the young Doctor commented, "I do not mind the work suggested by such an inclusive terminology, but begged for the appearance of dignity the Chair be known as that of Pathology alone." The first professor of all subjects taught with a microscope - histology, embryology, bacteriology, parasitology, microscopic pharmacology, as well as tropical medicine, nervous and mental diseases, inorganic chemistry, and clinical pathology - was twenty-seven years old. He lectured for a time on medical jurisprudence and was dean on two different occasions.
  • Dean Henry Pendleton Cooke, MD

    In 1891, when the Medical Department of the University actually started to function, part of the faculty of the old Texas Medical College and Hospital was absorbed by the state school, including Dr. Cooke, who was appointed as lecturer on diseases of children and as a pediatrician and dean of the Medical Department in 1898 and held both positions until 1901, when he resigned to give all his time to private practice.

    Dean Cooke's leadership during the 1900 storm and the critical period following the disaster made it possible to begin the Tenth Session of the school only a month and a half later than had been schedule.
  • Dean William Spencer Carter, MD
    Dean William Spencer Carter1903-1922 & 1935-1938

    Dr. Carter was appointed professor of physiology and hygiene at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, in 1897. He established one of the earliest research and teaching laboratories in physiology in the South, taught hygiene and public health for several years, and encouraged his assistant, Oscar Plant, to offer the first course in pharmacology at UTMB.

    In 1903 Carter became UTMB's fourth dean. During nineteen years in that position, he nurtured the growth and development of the institution. He founded the department of pharmacology and equipped physiology and pharmacology labs. He encouraged educational campaigns for the promotion of public hygiene and control of tuberculosis. He was instrumental in building an isolation hospital behind the Main Building at UTMB and also helped establish a Children's Hospital in Galveston, which was donated by the Texas Public Health Association and operated by a staff from the medical college. In 1913 UTMB became a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges, then a national organization of medical school deans. Fellow deans elected Carter vice president in 1916 and president in 1917.

    He left UTMB in 1922 to become a staff member of the Division of Medical Sciences of the Rockefeller Foundation, and in 1923 he was named associate director. For the next twelve years he skillfully orchestrated the development of medical schools in the Philippines, Australia, South Africa, Java, New Zealand, China, and India. In China he was acting director of Peking Union Medical College in 1925, and he helped organize the School of Tropical Medicine in Calcutta the next year. Carter retired in 1934. Urged by alumni and faculty, he returned to UTMB in 1935 as dean. He resigned in 1938. (From Texas State Historical Association)
  • Dean William Keiller, MD
    Dean William Keiller1922-1926

    In 1891 he became a professor at UTMB where he taught anatomy for forty years, specializing in neuroanatomy. An extraordinary lecturer and a talented artist, Dr. Keiller astounded students with exquisite chalkboard illustrations. He introduced the formalin method of preserving bodies used for dissection, pioneered in the use of local anesthetics, and wrote a valuable monograph, Nerve Tracts of the Brain and Cord (1927). He was also a joint author of Textbook on Anatomy (1899). Keiller served as UTMB's dean from 1922 to 1926. A laboratory building on the UTMB campus is named in his honor. He was president of the Texas State Medical Association (1926) and the Texas Neurological Society (1931). He was also a member of the Galveston County Medical Society, the American Medical Association, and the International Association of Medical Museums. The Texas Surgical Society elected Keiller its first honorary fellow in 1916. (From Texas State Historical Association)
  • Dean Henry C. Hartman, MD

    Dr. Henry C. Hartman
    received his M.D. from the medical department in 1907. He was on the faculty for a short time after his graduation as demonstrator in the Department of Pathology, and then went to Smith and WHite Hospital in Temple, Texas, as resident pathologist. In 1913, he returned to Galveston as chairman of the Department of Pathology. Dr. Hartman was elevated to the position of dean of the Medical Branch in 1926 when Dr. Keiller, who had served from 1922 to 1926 resigned to devote all his time to neuroanatomy teaching and research.
  • Dean George Emmett Bethel, MD

    Born in Garland, Texas, on November 2, 1894, George E. Bethel attended the University of Texas from 1913 to 1917, then came to the Medical Branch. He served his internship at St. Mary's Infirmary, Galveston, during 1922-1923, and his residency at Philadelphia General Hospital from 1924 to 1926. During his second year at the hospital he was appointed assistant chief resident physician. A plaque was later placed at Philadelphia General Hospital in his honor.

    Returning to Galveston in 1926, Dr. Bethel served for a short time as associate professor of anatomy before going to Austin as director of The University of Texas Health Service. When Dr. Henry Hartman resigned as dean of the Medical Branch in 1928 Dr. Bethel was appointed dean and professor of tropical medicine. During Dr. Bethel's seven years as dean, the freshman class increased in number from sixty to one hundred, and facilities to accommodate the increased enrollment were added. Throughout his deanship Dr. Bethel was in ill health and he died in office in 1935
  • Dean John W. Spies, MD

    In his history of administration (Saving Lives, Training Caregivers, Making Discoveries: A Centennial History of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston), Chester Burns describes the stormy deanship of Dr. John Spies from 1939 to 1942. In 1942 the AAMC and AMA both placed the Galveston medical school on probation.
  • Dean Chauncey D. Leake, PhD
    Dean and VP, Chauncey D Leake1942-1955

    In 1942, the University of Texas regents appointed Chauncey D. Leake, PhD, then professor of pharmacology at the University of California-San Francisco, to be vice president and dean of the Medical Branch. With boundless cheerfulness, generosity, and good will, Leake restored order at Galveston, quickly gaining the trust of faculty, staff, and students. He projected a humane vision of the history of medicine and sought to enlarge and enrich the medical library. (From Saving Lives, Training Caregivers, Making Discoveries: A Centennial History of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston)
  • Dean John B. Truslow, MD
    Dean JohnBTruslow1956-1964

    He received his bachelor's degree from Yale University and his medical degree from the Harvard University Medical School. Dr. Truslow became an assistant dean at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1946 and left in 1951. The tenth dean of the Medical Branch arrived March 31, 1956. A native of Brooklyn and son of an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Truslow was well known for his experience and interest in administrative medicine and medical education. He came to Galveston from the position of dean at the Medical College of Virginia, in Richmond.
  • Dean Truman Graves Blocker, Jr, MD
    Dean Truman Graves Blocker1964-1967

    After Dr. Blocker received his MD degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 1933, he interned at the Graduate Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, then devoted a year to residency training in surgery at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston.

    From the summer of 1942 until the summer of 1946 Dr. Blocker served as a military surgeon, first in the United States Air Force, then in the United States Army. He returned to UTMB in 1946 and became professor and chief of a new division of plastic and maxillofacial surgery.

    Between 1946 and 1964 he was variously director of postgraduate studies, director of the special surgical unit, director of hospitals, dean of the clinical faculty, chairman of the interim executive committee, and chairman of the department of surgery. He served as chief administrative officer of UTMB for ten years, first as executive director and dean (1964-67), then as president (1967-74). He encouraged the Shriners of North America to choose UTMB as the site of one of their three hospitals for the care of burned children. The Shriners Burns Institute opened in 1966 and is recognized as one of the outstanding facilities of its kind in the world. Blocker's diligence, vision, and persuasive powers occasioned unprecedented growth and expansion of UTMB's facilities and academic programs, transforming the medical school into an internationally recognized academic health-sciences center. (From Texas State Historical Association)
  • Dean Joseph M. White, MD


    Dr. Joseph M. White, VP for Academic Affairs and Dean of UTMB School of Medicine from 1968 to 1973, earned his undergraduate degree at Southern Methodist University and his medical degree at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, as well as an MS degree in pharmacology from the University of Iowa. He completed his internship at Denver General Hospital and his anesthesiology residency at the University of Iowa.

    A noted anesthesiologist, he held leadership roles at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center, including Associate Director of the University and Dean of the Medical Faculty, prior to arriving at UTMB. At UTMB he was recognized for far-reaching contributions to the teaching curriculum and significant growth of faculty and student enrollment throughout his tenure. Dr. White was a recipient of the Nicholas and Katherine Leone Award for Administrative Excellence, recognizing UTMB leaders who have achieved a special level of professional achievement. He also earned UT Southwestern Medical School’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

    Dr. White departed UTMB in 1973 to become Provost for Health Affairs and Executive Director of the Medical Center at the University of Missouri School of Medicine at Columbia.

  • Dean Edward N. Brandt, Jr., MD, PhD


    Dr. Edward N. Brandt, Jr. served as Dean of UTMB School of Medicine from 1973 to 1976. Dr. Brandt earned his BS, MD and PhD degrees from the University of Oklahoma, and his master’s degree from Oklahoma State University. After beginning his medical career at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Brandt came to UTMB in 1970 and held several leadership positions, including Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, acting Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Dean of the School of Medicine, and Executive Dean of the institution.

    Dr. Brandt’s varied background made him well-suited to provide leadership as a teacher, researcher, and administrator. During his time at UTMB he was noted for his support of the Family Practice program, outreach efforts such as AHEC (Area Health Education Centers), and development of efficient continuing education programs for physicians. He also continued to teach in his professional specialty area, internal medicine, and engaged with the National Student Research Forum to encourage research contributions from medical students.

    He departed UTMB to assume duties as Associate Deputy Chancellor for Health Affairs in the University of Texas System. Among his later career achievements, in 1981 President Ronald Reagan appointed him to be the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

  • Dean George T. Bryan, MD
    Dean George T Bryan1976-1995

    Dr. Bryan left an indelible mark on the university. His leadership contributed enormously to the stature and success of UTMB. The first Dean to also serve as Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Bryan’s 18-year tenure as Dean was the second longest in the history of UTMB.

    His love for UTMB was legendary and his impact on the institution quite evident today. During his tenure, Dr. Bryan hired 15 new Chairs of medical departments, and new Deans for the Schools of Nursing, Allied Health, and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, as well as Directors of the Institute for the Medical Humanities and the Marine Biomedical Institute. In Saving Lives, Training Caregivers, Making Discoveries, the late author, Chester R. Burns, MD, PhD, said Dr. Bryan, "Worked fearlessly with President Levin to initiate important changes in personnel and roles."

    Part of that important change, and something Dr. Bryan was particularly proud of, was a focus on increasing the diversity of the faculty and the student body. "It was not something we made a very big deal about, we just knew it was the right thing to do, and we quietly set about increasing the diversity on the campus," Dr. Bryan explained.
  • Dean George M. Bernier Jr., MD
    Dr. George M. Bernier Jr.1995-1999

    Dr. George M. Bernier Jr. served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Medicine at UTMB from 1995-1999. He was Vice President of Education and Professor of Medicine until his retirement from UTMB in 2001. A renowned hematologist/oncologist, Dr. Bernier received a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a medical degree from Harvard. Before coming to UTMB, he had served as Dean at the University of Pittsburgh, Chair of Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and Chief of Oncology at Case Western Reserve University.

    During his tenure as Dean, Dr. Bernier introduced the White Coat Ceremony to the School of Medicine, and the concept of the problem based learning. The White Coat Ceremony is now a wonderful tradition that allows alumni to connect to current students, and serves to remind students, in the words of Dr. Bernier: “The patients, in whose care you participate, deserve your respect, trust care and your ability to hold in absolute confidence what you learn from them and about them. By participating in today’s ceremony, you are accepting a new professional responsibility.”

    While at UTMB, Dr. Bernier was appointed to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Under his leadership, the first candidates for the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) Program for Women were sponsored, and an annual Teaching Achievement Award for the Integrated Medical Curriculum was established.
  • Dean Stanley Lemon, MD
    Dean StanleyLemon1999-2004

    In 1997, Dr. Lemon became the chair of the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston. In 1999, he became dean of the school of medicine at UTMB, a position he served in for 5 years before becoming the John Sealy Distinguished University Chair and Director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunology in 2004, two positions he held until earlier that year.

    During his tenure in Galveston, he led UTMB’s efforts to develop the Galveston National Laboratory, a maximum containment BSL4 infectious disease laboratory constructed under a $115 million grant from NIH. Since his retirement from UTMB, Dr. Lemon has returned to UNC's Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases.
  • Dean Valerie Parisi, MD

    Dr. Parisi served as dean of medicine, chief academic officer and vice president for academic program administration at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. In her tenure here, she also held the Thomas N. and Gleaves James Distinguished Chair, was advisor to the president, and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology. She was the first woman medical school dean in Texas.
  • Dean Garland D. Anderson, MD
    Dean Garland D Anderson2006-2011

    As chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology (1989-2006), Dr. Anderson made a concerted effort to eliminate health disparities, promoted the careers of women, and was instrumental in obtaining faculty status for nurse practitioners and nurse midwives. He earned an international reputation for his accomplishments in maternal-fetal medicine. Based on his strong belief that "every child deserves to be well-born," Dr. Anderson has been a tireless advocate for women’s health and the medically underserved. He spearheaded the transformation of a 12-clinic satellite program into the university’s highly successful Regional Maternal Child Health Program aimed at providing quality health, education and social services in collaboration with many communities from East Texas to the Valley. With Dr. Anderson at the helm, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology rose from the lowest ranked in National Institutes of Health funding to fourth in the nation.

    Dr. Anderson was named dean of the School of Medicine in 2006, and executive vice president and provost in 2008. He played a key leadership role in ensuring the highest standards for UTMB’s clinical, educational and research programs, bringing about greater collaborations, accountability and innovation.
  • Dean Danny O. Jacobs, MD, MPH


    Dr. Danny O. Jacobs served as the Executive Vice President, Provost and Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch from 2011 to 2018. As Provost, he served as an advocate and advisor for all students, residents and members of the faculty and staff.

    Jacobs earned his AB degree in biology and an MPH degree from Harvard University. He received his MD degree from Washington University in St. Louis, completing a surgical residency and serving as chief resident at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. 

    He is a prolific author and editor with research interests in the metabolic effects of  malnutrition, stress, infection, and injury; nuclear magnetic resonance applications in organ function and metabolism; and specific nutrients and growth factors in enteral and parenteral nutritional support.  He is certified by the American Board of Surgery and the National Board of Nutrition Support.

    Dr. Jacobs joined Oregon Health & Science University in 2018 as its fifth president.