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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

A Brief History of Pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medicine

A New Century

Although the University of Chicago began in 1890, it was not until 1898 that the University became involved in medicine. Under President William Rainey Harper, Chicago temporarily became affiliated with the Rush Medical College with "the distinct purpose of the University to establish such a Medical School when funds shall have been provided" (Decennial address by Harper, 1902).

Not until 1916 did such an event occur. Initially, the Board of Trustees set aside $5.3 million for construction, equipment, and an endowment. However, World War I put a halt to the development. The project resumed in 1921, eventually reaching completion in 1927. By that time, costs had skyrocketed to nearly five times that of the original estimate.

More Than a Medical School

Dedicated on Halloween in 1927, the University of Chicago Medicine quickly solidified under the direction of Frank Billings, MD. Expansion quickly followed:

  • In 1928, the University of Chicago began construction on the Home for Destitute and Crippled Children.

  • In 1931, it became trustee for the Country Home for Convalescent Children.

  • In 1938, it merged with the Chicago Lying-in Hospital.

Expansion and Growth

In 1967, the University of Chicago Medicine’s Wyler Children's Hospital opened its doors. The hospital name was later changed to the University of Chicago Children's Hospital.

Today, we have a new home for children's medicine. The state-of-the-art University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital opened in winter 2005.

To learn more about the history of the University of Chicago Medicine, read For the Greatest Good to the Largest Number: A History of the University of Chicago, 1927-1977 by C.W. Vermeulen, MD, which can be found in the John Crerar Library.