About Yale School of Medicine

Mission

As a preeminent academic medical center that supports the highest quality education, research, and patient care, the Yale School of Medicine will:

  • Educate and inspire scholars and future leaders who will advance the practice of medicine and the biomedical sciences,
  • Advance medical knowledge to sustain and improve health and to alleviate suffering caused by illness and disease, and
  • Provide outstanding care and service for patients in a compassionate and respectful manner.

History

The school was established in 1810 as the Medical Institution of Yale College. The current name, Yale School of Medicine, was adopted in 1918.

Milton C. Winternitz, who served as dean from 1920 to 1935, was the architect of the school’s unique educational philosophy, the Yale system of medical education, which emphasizes critical thinking in a nongraded, noncompetitive environment and requires students to write a thesis based on original research.

Harvey Cushing, widely regarded as the father of American neurosurgery and a seminal figure in American medicine, joined the faculty late in his career and donated his extensive collection of books to Yale. The medical school library, which bears his name, is regarded as one of the great medical historical libraries of the world.

YSM’s historical contributions to medicine include the first X-ray performed in the United States, the first successful use of penicillin in America, the first use of cancer chemotherapy, and the introduction of fetal heart monitoring, natural childbirth and newborn rooming-in. Yale doctors designed the first artificial heart pump and the first insulin infusion pump for diabetes, and it was here that the means of transmission of the polio virus was established, paving the way for the Salk vaccine. Lyme disease was identified by two Yale physicians in 1975.

More recent milestones include the first transgenic mouse, discovery of the mechanism of protein folding, which is key to understanding neurodegenerative diseases, and discovery of the mechanism of innate immunity, with major implications for infectious disease and cancer. Additional highlights include the first reliable method for early detection of autism and identification of genes associated with hypertension, macular degeneration, dyslexia and Tourette’s syndrome, among many others.