Heather Green Wooten, Ph.D.

Houston, TX


Heather Green Wooten is an adjunct assistant professor for the Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) where she teaches courses in medical history and medical ethics. She specializes in the history of disease epidemics, women and medicine and American medical biography. Wooten’s first book, The Polio Years in Texas: Battling a Terrifying Unknown was a recipient of the Mary M. Hughes Research Fellowship, the T. R. Fehrenbach Book Award by the Texas Historical Commission, and ETHA’s Ottis Lock Endowment Award. Recent publications include Old Red: Pioneering Medical Education in Texas for the TSHA Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series, and Skilled Hands: Surgery at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, co-authored with William Henry Kellar. Her latest endeavor involves writing the 50-year history of the Graduate School of the Biomedical Sciences at UTMB. In 2018, Wooten was appointed Project Director for the Handbook of Texas Medicine, currently undergoing development. She is an active member of many regional and state historical organizations, and a past president of the East Texas Historical Association. Wooten earned a Ph.D. in the Medical Humanities from UTMB in 2006.


Old Red: Pioneering Medical Education in Texas

Tucked away in a corner of the University of Texas Medical Branch campus stands a majestic relic of an era long past. Constructed of red pressed brick, sandstone, and ruddy Texas granite, the Ashbel Smith Building, fondly known as Old Red, represents a fascinating page in Galveston and Texas history. It has been more than a century since Old Red welcomed the first group of visionary faculty and students inside its halls. For decades, the medical school building existed at the heart of UTMB campus life, even through periods of dramatic growth and change. In time, however, the building lost much of its original function to larger, more contemporary facilities. Today, as the oldest medical school building west of the Mississippi River, the intricately ornate Old Red sits in sharp contrast to its sleeker neighbors. Old Red: Pioneering Medical Education in Texas examines the life and legacy of the Ashbel Smith Building from its beginnings through modern-day efforts to preserve it. Chapters explore the nascence of medical education in Texas; the supreme talent and genius of Old Red architect, Nicholas J. Clayton; and the lives of faculty and students as they labored and learned in the midst of budget crises, classroom and fraternity antics, death-rendering storms, and threats of closure. The education of the state’s first professional female and minority physicians and the nationally acclaimed work of physician-scientists and researchers are also highlighted. Most of all, the reader is invited to step inside Old Red and mingle with ghosts of the past—to ascend the magnificent cedar staircase, wander the long, paneled hallways, and take a seat in the tiered amphitheater as pigeons fly in and out of windows overhead.
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