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Though it is the youngest of the nation's leading medical enterprises, the component entities of Duke Health have grown into one of the country's largest clinical and biomedical research institutions. Duke Health encompasses a health system that spans 32 counties in North Carolina and includes areas in neighboring states. Here are some highlights from the history of Duke Health.

  • 1924
    Duke University created

    Industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke establishes The Duke Endowment, part of which transforms Durham's Trinity College into Duke University.

  • 1925
    Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Duke University Hospital established

    James B. Duke makes an additional bequest to establish the Duke University Schools of Medicine and Nursing and University Hospital. The goal: improving health care in the Carolinas and nationwide.

  • 1930
    Duke University Hospital opens

    Duke University Hospital opens to patients on July 21. The event attracts 25,000 visitors.

  • 1930
    Classes begin for Schools of Medicine and Nursing

    On Aug. 15, 1930, classes at the Medical School begin, while the first classes for nursing students begin on Jan. 2, 1931.

  • 1931
    Private Diagnostic Clinic organized

    The clinic provides coordinated medical and surgical care to private patients with moderate incomes.

  • 1935
    Ranked among nation's best

    The Association of American Medical Colleges ranks Duke among the top 25 percent of medical schools in the country - less than five years after it opened.

  • 1936
    Ultraviolet lamps in operating rooms

    Duke surgeon J. Deryl Hart uses ultraviolet lamps in operating rooms to kill airborne germs that cause post-operative staph infections. The number of infections and related deaths declines dramatically.

  • 1937
    First brain tumor program

    Duke establishes the nation's first brain tumor program, launching what will become a leader in the field.

  • 1950
    Medication safety

    Duke pediatric expert leads the push for drug companies to develop child-proof safety caps for medicine bottles.

  • 1950
    Lenox Baker Children's Hospital dedicated

    The 40-bed North Carolina Cerebral Palsy Hospital is dedicated. It is later renamed Lenox Baker Children's Hospital.

  • 1955
    First center for aging

    The Duke University Center for Aging, the first research center of its kind in the nation, is established.

  • 1956
    Systemic hypothermia during surgery

    Duke surgeons become first to use systemic hypothermia during cardiac surgery. The technique of cooling patients' body temperatures minimizes tissue damage during lengthy surgeries. The practice is now standard worldwide.

  • 1958
    First clinical nursing specialist program

    The Medical-Surgical Nursing Department develops the clinical nursing specialist program, the first master's program of its kind in the United States.

  • 1963
    First African American student

    Duke University School of Medicine admits its first African American student, Wilhem Delano Meriwether.

  • 1965
    Nation's first PA program

    Duke establishes the nation's first Physician Assistant Program.
    Students in the first Duke PA school

  • 1968
    Protecting against oxygen toxicity

    Duke scientists discover the enzyme that protects living things against the toxicity of oxygen.

  • 1969
    Deep-sea dive research

    In its hyperbaric chamber, Duke conducts the first recorded studies of humans' ability to function and work at pressures equal to a 1,000-foot deep-sea dive.

  • 1969
    Databank for Cardiovascular Disease created

    The Duke Databank for Cardiovascular Disease is created. It is today the world's largest and oldest databank on heart care outcomes.

  • 1971
    Comprehensive cancer center

    The Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center becomes one of the nation’s first cancer centers established by the National Cancer Act. It is designated a "comprehensive" cancer center by the National Cancer Institute in 1973.

  • 1973
    Duke Eye Center opens

    The Eye Center opens and is dedicated on November 8.

  • 1980
    New Duke University Hospital

    The new $94.5-million, 616-bed Duke University Hospital opens north of the original hospital. The total number of patient beds tops 1,000.

  • 1985
    First AZT trial

    Duke becomes one of two hospitals to conduct the first human clinical trials of AZT, the first drug developed to treat HIV/AIDS.

  • 1990
    Newborn screening

    Duke geneticists invent a three-minute test to screen newborns for over 30 metabolic diseases at once. The test is now routinely used throughout the country.

  • 1992
    First outpatient bone-marrow transplant program

    Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center develops the nation's first outpatient bone-marrow transplantation program.

  • 1992
    Transplant milestones

    Duke performs its first lung transplant and its first heart/lung transplant.

  • 1993
    First successful thymus transplant

    Duke pediatric immunologist Louise Markert, MD, develops the first treatment of its kind for babies with DiGeorge Syndrome suffering from thymus abnormalities.

  • 1993
    Alzheimer's gene

    Duke researchers identify apolipoprotein E (apoE) as the major susceptibility gene for Alzheimer's disease. It is one of many genetic risk factors for disease identified at Duke.

  • 1993
    Largest clinical trial

    Duke enrolls the final patient in GUSTO-I, the largest clinical trial conducted in the United States. The trial infrastructure formed the foundation for the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI), the nation's foremost academic clinical trials center.

  • 1995
    BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes

    Duke scientists help discover the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes responsible for many inherited forms of breast and ovarian cancers.

  • 1996
    Duke Clinical Research Institute established

    The Duke Clinical Research Institute is established. DCRI conducts large, multinational clinical trials, manages major national patient registries, and performs outcomes research.

  • 1998
    Duke University Health System established

    Duke University Health System is created as Duke establishes partnerships with Durham Regional Hospital (now Duke Regional Hospital), Raleigh Community Hospital (now Duke Raleigh Hospital), and other regional health care providers and practices.

  • 2000
    Children’s Health Center opens

    The McGovern-Davison Children’s Health Center opens, bringing all of Duke’s pediatric specialties under one roof. The $32.5 million facility is completely paid for through philanthropy.

    Duke Childrens Hospital and Health Center interior

  • 2003
    Duke-NUS Medical School established

    Duke Health and the National University of Singapore partner to establish that country's first graduate medical school. The new school is based on Duke's medical school curriculum and the U.S. model in which students enter medical school after earning their baccalaureate degree.

  • 2004
    Raleigh Community becomes Duke Raleigh

    Raleigh Community Hospital changes its name to Duke Raleigh Hospital, introducing Wake County residents to newly expanded services including a cardiovascular center and cancer center.

  • 2005
    Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI)

    Duke is selected by the National Institutes of Health to lead the $300 million Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI). The consortium of research universities is dedicated to HIV vaccine research, development and design.

  • 2006
    First treatment for Pompe disease

    The FDA approves a lifesaving treatment developed at Duke for Pompe disease, a previously fatal genetic disorder.

  • 2006
    Global Health Institute established

    The university-wide Global Health Institute is launched to promote education, research and service in health care to underserved populations globally.

  • 2006
    Nursing establishes doctoral degree program

    The Duke University School of Nursing admits the first students into its new doctoral degree program. The school also opens a new facility that unites all nursing education and research programs on one campus.

  • 2006
    Hospitals' Magnet designation

    Duke University Hospital is named a Magnet Hospital by the American Nurses Association. Less than 4 percent of U.S. hospitals hold the distinction. Durham Regional achieves Magnet status in 2008; Duke Raleigh follows in 2009.

  • 2007
    First map of imprinted genes

    Duke scientists create the first map of imprinted genes throughout the human genome. The mapping reveals four times as many imprinted genes as had previously been identified.

  • 2011
    First graduating class of Duke-NUS

    The first class of the Duke-NUS Doctor of Medicine program graduates.

  • 2012
    Duke Cancer Center opens

    A new Duke Cancer Center facility opens, a state-of-the-art patient care center that consolidates in one location almost all outpatient clinical cancer care services.

    Duke Cancer Center building exterior

  • 2012
    Nobel Prize winner

    Robert Lefkowitz, MD, professor of medicine, wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

  • 2013
    Electronic health record

    Duke University Health System becomes the first provider in the greater Triangle region to implement the country's leading electronic health record (EHR) system. Duke University Hospital and 223 outpatient facilities use the state-of-the-art system.

  • 2013
    Duke Medicine Pavilion opens

    Duke Medicine Pavilion, a major expansion of Duke University Hospital, opens. The eight-floor, 608,000 square-foot building includes 160 critical care rooms, 18 operating rooms and an imaging suite.  

  • 2013
    First bioengineered blood vessel

    In a first-of-its-kind operation in the United States, a team of Duke surgeons transplants a bioengineered blood vessel into a patient's arm. Duke surgeons helped create the vessel.

    Duke Health doctors performing surgery

  • 2013
    Medical research honor

    Blake Wilson, co-director of the Duke Hearing Center wins the 2013 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for his role in the development of cochlear implants.

  • 2013
    Durham Regional becomes Duke Regional Hospital

    On July 1, 2013, Durham Regional Hospital becomes Duke Regional Hospital.

  • 2013
    New home for Medical School

    The Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education opens as the new home for the School of Medicine.

  • 2014
    First bionic eye recipient

    Duke doctors implant the seventh so-called "bionic eye" in the U.S., allowing a patient to see for the first time in 33 years.

  • 2015
    New Eye Center opens

    Duke opens the state-of-the-art Hudson Building at Duke Eye Center. The four-floor facility has 116,000 square feet.

  • 2015
    Nobel Prize Winner

    Paul Modrich, James B. Duke professor in the Department of Biochemistry, wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The award recognizes his four decades of work on how mistakes in the DNA code are repaired.

  • 2016
    Pioneering brain cancer therapy

    The FDA awards Duke "breakthrough therapy designation" for their poliovirus therapy for glioblastoma. The therapy was developed and is being tested by researchers at Duke's Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center.

  • 2016
    Califf named FDA deputy commissioner

    Robert Califf, MD, vice chancellor of clinical and translational research at Duke University School of Medicine and a global leader in cardiovascular medicine, is named commissioner of the FDA.