Northwestern University
Feinberg School of Medicine

Founders and Groundbreakers

Isaac Abt, MD

Isaac Abt, MDIsaac Abt, MD, pediatrician and medical school professor, graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in 1891. He was a pioneer in pediatrics, and his eight-volume “System of Pediatrics” is a classic in the field. Abt pioneered the early work on incubators for premature infants and co-developed a successful electric breast pump. He was the first physician in Chicago to administer diphtheria antitoxin, and he was the first American pediatrician to use protein milk in the treatment of diarrhea. top

Henry B. Betts, MD

Henry B. Betts, MD

Henry B. Betts, MD, has devoted his career to improving the lives of people with disabilities. In 1990, Betts' support and guidance for the Americans with Disabilities Act encouraged the nation to focus on disability issues. His advocacy also encouraged the city of Chicago to create curb cuts to improve access for people with disabilities. Betts was appointed chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Northwestern University Medical School in 1967.

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Gary Borisy, PhD

Gary Borisy, PhD

In 1965, Gary Borisy, PhD, discovered the protein tubulin, which comprises a key part of the cell's cytoskeleton. He provided important insights into chromosome movement and the role of the protein actin, a major component of cell motility, and the dynamics of microtubules, filaments that help direct cell division. Borisy, now an adjunct professor, was previously associate vice president for research and the Leslie B. Arey Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology.

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John I. Brewer, MD, PhD

John I. Brewer, MD, PhD

John I. Brewer, MD, PhD, joined the Northwestern University Medical School faculty in obstetrics and gynecology in 1930 and remained active in his specialty until his death in 1997. In the late 1940s, he brought one of the first chemotherapeutic drugs, methotrexate, into clinical practice at Northwestern. He used it to treat choriocarcinoma, or cancer of the placenta, a nearly always fatal disease, and increased the survival rate to 92 percent. He served as editor-in-chief of the “American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.”

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Serdar E. Bulun, MD

Serdar E. Bulun, MD

Serdar E. Bulun, MD, chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is widely recognized for pioneering molecular medicine in the field of gynecology. He discovered the epigenetic basis of endometriosis and introduced aromatase inhibitors as a novel class of drugs to effectively treat it. He has also contributed significantly to the systems biology of hormone-responsive disorders of the breast, including cancer.

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William Heath Byford, MD

William Heath Byford, MD

William Byford, MD, was the head of obstetrics and diseases of women and children at Lind University, now known as the Feinberg School of Medicine. He’s best known as one of the leaders in the American system of gynecology and for founding the Women's Medical College in 1870. A prolific writer, he gained early notoriety with journal articles on performing Caesarian sections. 

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Nathan Smith Davis, MD

Nathan Smith Davis, MD

In 1859, Nathan Smith Davis co-founded the medical department of Lind University, which later became the Chicago Medical College and eventually the Northwestern University school of medicine. He served as a university trustee until the time of his death. He was instrumental in the founding of the American Medical Association and was one of the founders of the Chicago Medical Society, the Chicago Historical Society, the Chicago Academy of the Sciences and the Union College of Law, which eventually became the Northwestern University school of law.

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John Eccles, PhD

John Eccles, PhD

John Eccles, PhD, Andrew Huxley and Alan Lloyd Hodgkin shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their fundamental work on the synapse. Eccles, an Australian neurophysiologist and philosopher, was a professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine from 1966-1968. He later worked with Bernard Katz on some of the experiments that elucidated the role of acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter.

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Michael Fleming, MD, MPH

Michael Fleming, MD, MPH

Michael Fleming, MD, MPH, professor of Family and Community Medicine and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, has served as the principal investigator on more than a dozen National Institutes of Health grants and contracts related to behavioral interventions in community-based primary care practices. Fleming has published more than 135 peer-reviewed research papers in more than 40 publications since 2005. In 2005, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. 

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Robert F. Furchgott, PhD '40

Robert F. Furchgott, PhD

Robert Furchgott, PhD ’40, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1998, which he shared with Louis J. Ignarro and Ferid Murad for “their discoveries concerning nitric oxide as a signaling molecule.” Furchgott’s discoveries have helped scientists understand and find new treatments for cardiovascular diseases and other conditions ranging from immune disorders to memory loss, pulmonary disease and erectile dysfunction.

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John Hamilcar Hollister, MD

John Hamilcar Hollister, MD

John Hollister, MD, was chairman of the medical and surgical staff at Cook County Hospital from 1866-1896 and was treasurer of the Illinois State Medical Society for 22 years before becoming its president in 1875. Hollister held several different chairs at Lind University — now known as the Feinberg School of Medicine — ending with the professorship of clinical medicine, which he retained from 1882 to his retirement in 1895.

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Ralph Nelson Isham, MD

Ralph Nelson Isham, MD

President Abraham Lincoln appointed Ralph Isham, MD, surgeon in charge of the U.S. Marine Hospital in Chicago. The organizational meeting for the Lind University medical department took place in Isham's office, and he became the youngest faculty member. Lind University is now known as the Feinberg School of Medicine.

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J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD

J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD

J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, served as chair of the Department of Medicine from 2000 to 2007, when he was named vice president for medical affairs and dean of the medical school. He has a long-standing interest in the genetics of endocrine tumors and possible approaches to their treatment. He has published more than 250 scientific articles and co-edited the fourth and the fifth editions of the authoritative text, “DeGroot and Jameson’s Endocrinology.”

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Hosmer A. Johnson, MD

Hosmer A. Johnson, MD

Hosmer Johnson, MD, was regarded as a pioneer in the field of nose and throat surgery and was also a leader in the use of the microscope and the thermometer. In 1859, he was part of the effort to negotiate with the trustees of Lind University to start its medical department. Lind University later became the Feinberg School of Medicine.

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Melina Kibbe, MD

Melina Kibbe, MD

Melina Kibbe, MD, ’03 GME, is an expert in the treatment of carotid stenosis, peripheral vascular disease and abdominal aortic aneurysms. From 2011-2016, she served as deputy director of Northwestern’s Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology and vice chair of the Department of Surgery. Northwestern recognized Kibbe for her outstanding talents as an educator of the next generation of surgeons, honoring her with 18 awards for teaching excellence.

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Todd A. Kuiken, MD, PhD

Todd A. Kuiken, MD, PhD

Todd A. Kuiken, PhD '89, MD '90, GME '95, is known as the creator of the "Bionic Arm,” the first major advancement in prosthetics since World War II. His neuro-controlled prosthetic arm allows an amputee to move his or her artificial limb simply by thinking about it and provides more natural movement and greater range of motion. He is a professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Surgery.

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Robert Lamb, PhD

Robert Lamb, PhD

Robert Lamb, PhD, is a professor of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and of Microbiology-Immunology. He studies the replication and pathogenesis of influenza virus and paramyxoviruses, specifically virus-mediated membrane fusion, the action of protein-selective ion channels, enveloped virus assembly and how these viruses defeat innate immunity.

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Laszlo Lorand, PhD

Laszlo Lorand, PhD

Laszlo Lorand, PhD, and his collaborators made discoveries that laid the foundation for the molecular understanding of the clotting of fibrinogen in blood. This led to the reconstruction of the physiological process as well as to the diagnosis of unusual bleeding disorders. His work served as a foundation for studying protein cross-linking in aging cells. He was the first director of a National Institutes of Health-funded Biochemistry Training Program and is a founding member of the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology.

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George D. Lundberg, MD

George D. Lundberg, MD

George D. Lundberg, MD, clinical professor of Pathology, is recognized internationally for his work in tropical medicine and forensic medicine. He is widely regarded as an early pioneer of the medical internet. For 17 years, Lundberg served as the editorial lead on 39 American Medical Association medical journals, “American Medical News” and various internet products.

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Paul B. Magnuson, MD

Paul B. Magnuson, MD

Paul B. Magnuson, MD, was a renowned orthopedic surgeon who became an advocate for people with disabilities while serving as the medical director for the Veterans Administration during World War II. He was also the former chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Northwestern University Medical School and the founder of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (now the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab). 

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Charles H. Mayo, MD

Charles H. Mayo, MD

Charles H. Mayo, MD, founder of the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in 1888. A renowned surgeon, Mayo pioneered modern goiter surgery and surgical techniques for the nervous system. Mayo received the U.S. Distinguished Service medal, served as president of the American Medical Association and was a trustee of Northwestern University.

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Chad A. Mirkin, PhD

Chad A. Mirkin, PhD

Chad A. Mirkin, PhD, director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology, the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry and professor of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine, is a world-renowned nanoscience expert. He is known for the development of nanoparticle-based biodetection schemes, the invention of Dip-Pen Nanolithography and contributions to supramolecular chemistry, nanoelectronics and nanooptics. He is the author of more than 440 manuscripts and over 400 patents and applications and is the founder of three nanotechnology companies. He holds membership in the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.

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Milan Mrksich, PhD

Milan Mrksich, PhD

Milan Mrksich, PhD, a professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and the Department of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is considered a world leader in engineering the interface between cells and surfaces. Among his many honors, Mrksich is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

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Ferid Murad, MD, PhD

Ferid Murad, MD, PhD

Ferid Murad, MD, PhD, Robert F. Furchgott and Louis J. Ignarro shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Murad's discoveries helped scientists understand and find new treatments for cardiovascular diseases and other conditions ranging from immune disorders to memory loss, pulmonary disease and erectile dysfunction. From 1988-1998, he was an adjunct faculty member in Pharmacology and Cell and Molecular Biology

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Eric G. Neilson, MD

Eric G. Neilson, MD

Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for medical affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean, came to the Feinberg after serving as the Hugh Jackson Morgan Professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the C Mahlon Kline Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. His research has made important contributions to understanding the cell fate of fibroblasts in fibrogenesis, the expression of the nephritogenic immune response and the biochemical mechanisms of renal hypertrophy.

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Sandra F. Olson, MD

Sandra F. Olson, MDSandra Olson, MD '63, GME '69, was the first woman president of the American Academy of Neurology, as well as the first female leader of the Illinois State Medical Society, the Chicago Medical Society and the Chicago Neurological Society. She graduated from Northwestern Medical School and completed her residency here, before joining Northwestern Memorial Hospital as an attending physician and instructor for the medical school. She was eventually appointed the first woman chief-of-staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. top

Roswell Park, MD

Roswell Park, MD

Roswell Park, MD, received his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School in 1876. Park founded the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, America’s first cancer center, in 1898. His revolutionary model of a multidisciplinary approach to cancer with scientists and clinicians working together has become the standard by which modern-day comprehensive cancer centers are measured.

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Hans Popper, MD, PhD

Hans Popper, MD, PhD

Hans Popper, MD, PhD, is widely regarded as the father of hepatology. After completing his service in World War II in 1949, Popper was appointed associate professor of pathology at Northwestern University Medical School. He published more than 800 papers with a focus on the liver in health and disease and became a founding member of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

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Alfred Newton Richards, PhD

Alfred Newton Richards, PhD

Alfred Newton Richards, PhD, proved kidneys filter blood by inventing glomerular micropuncture, was the first to employ inulin to study glomerular filtration rate and determined that renal tubules secreted or reabsorbed various substances in processing final urine. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him to head the Committee on Medical Research during World War II. In that role, Richards put penicillin in production as a therapeutic agent. He served appointed professor of Pharmacology at Northwestern University Medical School starting in 1908.

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Howard Taylor Ricketts, MD

Howard Taylor Ricketts, MD

Howard Taylor Ricketts, MD, was a pathologist and infectious disease investigator. He graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in 1897 and by 1908 had won worldwide acclaim for his identification of the bacterial organism of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The class of bacteria responsible for both Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and typhus was named the Rickettsia in his honor.

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John A. Rogers, PhD

John A. Rogers, PhD

John A. Rogers, PhD, is internationally known for designing and developing classes of electronic devices that can bend, stretch and twist, be integrated with the human body and have diverse diagnostic and therapeutic function. His research spans disciplines and exploits novel approaches to problems with the potential to change the fields of industrial, consumer and biocompatible electronics. He is a professor of Neurological Surgery.

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Andrew E. "Drew" Senyei, MD

Andrew E. "Drew" Senyei, MD

Drew Senyei, MD, alumnus, has been a managing director at the venture capital firm Enterprise Partners since 1987. He leads the life science practice, focusing on investments in pharmaceuticals, biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical devices, and consumer healthcare. While still a medical student, he and classmate Kenneth J. Widder, MD '79, developed a drug delivery device and licensed it to Eli Lilly.

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Teepu Siddique, MD

Teepu Siddique, MD

Teepu Siddique, MD, is a neurologist whose research has focused on the molecular genetics of several neuromuscular diseases, particularly amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, commonly called Lou Gehrig disease) and ALS with dementia. His research team developed the first animal model of any neurodegenerative disease, the SOD1 transgenic mouse, in 1994. Since then, they have developed several other models, using them to study disease mechanism and test potential therapies.

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Susan Skochelak, MD, MPH

Susan Skochelak, MD, MPH

Susan Skochelak, MD, MPH, is an adjunct professor of Family and Community Medicine and a nationally recognized authority in medical education. She serves as the group vice president for medical education at the American Medical Association, where she leads the strategic initiative “Accelerating Change in Medical Education,” and created the AMA Center to Transform Medical Education. 

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David J. Skorton, MD

David J. Skorton, MD

David J. Skorton, MD, is the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1970 and the Feinberg School of Medicine in 1974. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Feinberg School of Medicine in 2009.

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Patricia Spear, PhD

Patricia Spear, PhD

Patricia Spear, PhD, identified the mechanisms the herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 use to enter cells. She also characterized the cell surface carbohydrates and proteins required for penetration of human cells and viral spread by cell-cell fusion. She is professor emeritus in Microbiology-Immunology.

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Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD

Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD

Thomas E. Starzl, MD ‘52, PhD ’52, known as the father of transplantation, performed the first successful liver transplant in 1967 at the University of Colorado. Starzl also conducted the first multiple organ transplant in 1983, the first heart and liver transplant in 1984 and the first liver and intestine transplant in 1990. In 1980, he introduced the anti-rejection medications anti-lymphocyte globulin and cyclosporine. He was instrumental in developing tacrolimus, a drug that significantly increased post-transplantation survival rates.

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Samuel I. Stupp, PhD

Samuel I. Stupp, PhD

Samuel I. Stupp, PhD, studies nanostructures and materials with emphasis in regenerative medicine, organic electronics, solar energy and cancer therapies. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2012 for his work on the biomedical applications of self-assembled polymers. He is director of the Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology and professor of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Molecular Medicine in the Department of Medicine.

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Edwin Taylor, PhD

Edwin Taylor, PhD

Edwin Taylor, PhD, adjunct professor of Cell and Molecular Biology, made significant contributions to understanding the biochemistry of muscle contraction and cytoskeletal research. His investigations provided the first kinetic model describing how molecular motors convert chemical energy into mechanical force. He discovered several molecular cell motors, some of which assist in the motility of certain white blood cells, and showed how actin and myosin induce movement in non-muscle cells.

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Mary Thompson, MD

Mary Thompson, MD

Mary Thompson, MD, was the first female surgeon in the United States and, in 1870, was Northwestern Medical School's first female medical graduate. She founded the Women's Medical College, the first medical school for women in the Midwest; the Chicago Hospital for Women and Children, the first hospital staffed by female physicians; and helped found Chicago’s first nursing school. She also developed a number of surgical instruments and procedures.

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Daniel Hale Williams, MD

Daniel Hale Williams, MD

Daniel Hale Williams, MD, was the school’s first African-American graduate and faculty member, the first black fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the principal founder of the National Medical Association. Williams founded Provident Hospital in Chicago, the first black-owned and -operated interracial hospital in the country in 1891. He performed one of the world’s first successful heart operations in 1893, and President Grover Cleveland appointed him surgeon-in-chief at Freedman’s Hospital, Washington, D.C., in 1894.

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Clyde W. Yancy, MD

Clyde W. Yancy, MD

Clyde W. Yancy, MD, MSc, is vice dean for Diversity and Inclusion, Magerstadt Professor and chief of Cardiology in the Department of Medicine and professor of Medical Social Sciences. He is also a former president of the American Heart Association, a member of the National Academy of Medicine and an internationally-recognized expert in preventive cardiology, cardiomyopathy, and racial and ethnic disparities in cardiovascular disease.

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