University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

By: John S. Chapman

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: August 12, 2020

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, originally organized as the University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas in 1972, received its present name in October 1987. The center is home to three primary teaching hospitals, Parkland Memorial Hospital, the Children's Medical Center of Dallas, and the Zale Lipshy University Hospital, which opened in 1989. The Southwestern Medical Center comprises three divisions: Southwestern Medical School, the Southwestern Allied Health Sciences School, and the Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Each is under the direction of a dean, and the entire center is under the direction of a president. Southwestern Medical School is fully accredited by the Joint Committee on Accreditation. Enrollment is limited to 200 students per entering class. In addition to the M.D. program, the school offers joint programs, in association with the Graduate School of Biomedical Science, that lead to a combined M.D.-Ph.D. This medical school developed from a private and unaffiliated medical school, Southwestern Medical College of the Southwestern Medical Foundation, which came into existence in 1943, following the removal of Baylor Medical College to Houston. The medical college began with a full-time faculty of sixteen and a total student enrollment of 200. Most of the students were on detached military service to permit completion of the M.D. The curriculum was accelerated so that the degree could be obtained in three years, in order to provide sufficient physicians for the estimated needs of the armed forces during World War II.

A satisfactory program of financing never developed, and in 1949, through passage of Senate Bill 493, the college became a part of the University of Texas under the name Southwestern Medical School. Transfer of students, faculty, and such transferable properties as the foundation possessed was complete on September 1. Entering classes were expanded from 65 to 100. The budget was set at $500,000 for the first year and $1 million for the second. By 1953 the full-time faculty had increased to seventy. Faculty and students have progressively increased in number, and the yearly budget in the early 1990s was around $330 million. Building has progressed steadily since the medical school became a part of the university; the first building was contracted in 1952. The library increased from 25,000 to nearly 250,000 volumes and had subscriptions to more than 2,300 periodicals in the 1990s. In addition to the established curriculum, the medical school provides instruction to around 300 postdoctoral fellows and 900 clinical residents stationed in the primary teaching hospitals and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dallas. A large and increasing continuing-education program provided courses to more than 15,000 physicians annually. The Southwestern Allied Health Sciences School developed out of degree training in medical art and illustration, a program that was attached to Southwestern Medical College at the time the school became a part of the University of Texas. The first students in allied health sciences enrolled in 1973. By 1984 the school offered fully accredited bachelor of science degrees in such areas as allied health education, nutrition and dietetics, and gerontology services administration. The Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences developed from programs approved in 1953 for the Ph.D. in biophysics and microbiology. Subsequently fourteen programs leading to advanced degrees have been approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Support for the Southwestern Medical Center derives from biennial appropriations of the Texas legislature, the Permanent University Fund, numerous federal and other grants and contracts, private gifts and contributions, and medical activities of the full-time staff of physicians. In 1985 UT Southwestern faculty members Michael Brown and Joseph Goldstein were awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for their work in cholesterol metabolism. Theirs was the first Nobel Prize in medicine awarded in Texas. In 1988 another faculty member Johann Deisenhofer, a professor of biochemistry, won the Nobel Prize for chemistry along with two West German colleagues. In 1994 Alfred G. Gilman, the center's chairman of pharmacology, shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for the discovery of G proteins. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center was the recipient of a $41 million gift from the Harold Simmons Foundation in 1988. The money, used to aid cancer research, constituted the largest donation made for higher education in Texas at that time. UT Southwestern also operated the James W. Aston Ambulatory Care Center. For the 1992–93 school year the center had 3,206 faculty members, 1,982 volunteers, and an enrollment of 2,800. In the fall of 2000, combined enrollment at the center's three schools was 1,505, plus 1,101 clinical residents and 561 postdoctoral fellows. The faculty numbered 3,577, including 2,038 volunteers. A new North Campus was under development. Kern Wildenthal was president.

John S. Chapman, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School: Medical Education in Dallas, 1900–1975 (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1976).

  • Education
  • Medical Schools and Teaching Hospitals
  • Health and Medicine
  • Hospitals, Clinics, and Medical Centers
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

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

John S. Chapman, “University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 12, 2020

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