Thomas Jefferson UniversitySidney Kimmel Medical College

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History of the Department


The Department of Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University has a rich history dating back to the 1800s. In 1824, Dr. Joseph Klapp, along with just four other Jefferson faculty, applied for a charter from Jefferson Medical College to start a Department of Medicine. Dr. Klapp was named the Professor of Theory and Practice and would become the first chairman of the department. Dr. Klapp, an 1805 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, had a large practice and was one of the physicians to the Philadelphia Almshouse Infirmary. Since Dr. Klapp, Jefferson’s Department of Medicine has had many influential chairmen, including Dr. John Revere, son of revolutionary patriot Paul Revere; Dr. Robley Dunglison, who would go on to become the Dean of the Medical College; and Dr. Jacob M. DaCosta, a pioneer in the field of Cardiology. Jefferson’s Department of Medicine grew and by 1985 the Department Chairman, Willis C. Maddrey, had 475 Faculty Members in 3 Divisions, 88 Residents, two Chief Residents, and 30 Fellows. The Department occupied five floors in the College Building and was assigned 219 teaching beds in Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, with additional medical teaching arrangements in ten affiliated Hospitals. Research grants totaled over $8 million. Today, Jefferson’s Department of Medicine still shines, with many nationally ranked departments, patient centered physicians, and excellent teachers.

Thomas Jefferson University, an academic health center, was founded as Jefferson Medical College in 1824. Jefferson Medical College has awarded more than 26,000 medical degrees and has more living graduates than any other medical school in the nation. An infirmary to treat the poor was opened in 1825, and by 1844, Jefferson was providing patient beds over a shop at 10th and Sansom Streets. A 125-bed hospital, one of the first in the nation affiliated with a medical school, opened in 1877, and a school for nurses began in 1891.On July 1, 1969 the institution became Thomas Jefferson University, composed of Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, the College of Graduate Studies, the School of Health Professions, the School of Nursing, the School of Pharmacy, and the School of Population Health. Today, this academic health center tests and treats 25,000 inpatients and more than 300,000 outpatients every year, and enrolls 2,600 future health care professionals. Public and private funding of Jefferson research exceeds $64 million annually.