Texas Medical Center

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: February 22, 2022

The idea for the Texas Medical Center, Houston, was conceived by the trustees of the M.D. Anderson Foundation in the early 1940s. The foundation planned the first units of the center to be the University of Texas Hospital for Cancer Research and the Baylor University College of Medicine (now Baylor College of Medicine). A 134-acre site of city-owned property, adjacent to the Hermann Hospital grounds and adjoining Hermann Park, passed to the foundation from the city in 1944, after a popular vote authorized the sale in 1943. The Texas Medical Center, Incorporated, was organized and received title to the land in 1945, at which time a board of directors assumed responsibility for development and coordination of the center under the leadership of president Ernst William Bertner. Designed to attract institutions related to health education, research, and patient care, the center assembled staffs, provided facilities, and developed programs necessary to assure the highest standards of attainment in medicine. The various programs were directed jointly by independent institutions. Between 1951 and 1955 facilities were completed for University of Texas M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute (now the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center), Methodist Hospital, Arabia Temple Crippled Children's Clinic (now Shriner's Hospital for Crippled Children), Texas Medical Center Library (Jesse H. Jones Library Building), Texas Children's Hospital, St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, and the University of Texas Dental Branch. Expansion during 1959 and 1960 included the Texas Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, Houston Speech and Hearing Institute, Houston State Psychiatric Institute for Research and Training, Texas Woman's University, Houston Center, and the Institute of Religion (see ROTHKO CHAPEL). During that period the Texas Medical Center joined with Baylor University College of Medicine to activate a joint administration committee, consisting of seven members, responsible for policy matters of the medical college as related to the center. Other joint committees have since been started.

Between 1962 and 1965 Ben Taub General Hospital, a city-county charity hospital staffed by Baylor University, was completed, as was an addition to Methodist Hospital, which doubled patient care facilities to 700 beds, and the Texas Heart Institute. The City of Houston Department of Public Health (now the Houston Department of Health and Human Services) opened in 1965. In 1972 the University of Texas Houston Health Science Center joined the Texas Medical Center. UTHSCH currently includes eight operating units: the Dental Branch, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Division of Continuing Education, the Harris County Psychiatric Center, the Medical School, the School of Allied Health Sciences, the School of Nursing, and the School of Public Health. The center also set up the nation's first High School for Health Professionals in 1971 and the Life Flight helicopter rescue program at Hermann Hospital in 1976. In the 1980s the center added the University of Houston College of Pharmacy, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the Life Gift Organ Donation Center, and the Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital, among others. One of the most recent additions to the center is the Albert B. Alkek Institute of Biosciences and Technology, Texas A&M University. The Texas Medical Center in 1992 had a combined operating budget of over $4 billion, compared to $159,474,000 in 1970. In 1970 there were 3,196 students and 13,047 full-time and 2,145 part-time employees. In 1993 there were 76,000 students involved in regular coursework, training programs, short courses, and continuing education classes and 54,774 employees, less than 5,000 of which were part-time. In 1970 there were 3,256 beds, 191 bassinets, and 1,054,975 in-patient and out-patient visits. In 1992 the center had 6,694 beds, 407 bassinets, and 3.8 million in-patient and out-patient visits. In the late 1980s and early 1990s over $1.8 billion had been received as research grants for the center's nineteen member institutions performing research. Between 1987 and 1996 the center allocated $2.13 billion for building expansion and renovation. In over fifty years the Texas Medical Center has achieved national and international recognition in education, research, and patient care, especially in the fields of heart disease, cancer, and rehabilitation. In 1994 the Texas Medical Center was the largest medical center in the world, with more than 675 acres and 100 permanent buildings housing forty-one member institutions, which included fourteen hospitals, two medical schools, four colleges of nursing, and six university systems. Richard E. Wainerdi was the president.

Clyde W. Burleson and Suzy Williams Burleson, A Guide to the Texas Medical Center (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987). N. Don Macon, Mr. John H. Freeman and Friends: A Story of the Texas Medical Center and How It Began (Houston: Texas Medical Center, 1973). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Richard E. Wainerdi, Texas Medical Center (New York: Newcomen Society of the United States, 1993).

  • Education
  • Medical Schools and Teaching Hospitals
  • Health and Medicine
  • Hospitals, Clinics, and Medical Centers
Time Periods:
  • World War II
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Texas Medical Center,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 14, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-medical-center.

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February 22, 2022

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