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About the College of Medicine

The History of Downstate Medical Center spans over 130 years, during which time it has undergone several name changes. In 1856 two physicians established a dispensary in downtown Brooklyn to provide care for poor immigrants. The Long Island College Hospital grew out of this dispensary. In 1858 the state granted the hospital's request for a charter to launch a medical school. The school, which opened its doors two years later, revolutionized medical education in the United States. The new school was unique because, for the first time in this country, the teaching of medicine was brought to the hospital bedside and the idea that physicians should be trained exclusively in university classrooms and lecture halls was rejected. It was truly a college hospital.

In 1931 the school was rechartered as the Long Island College of Medicine, with affiliated hospitals throughout Brooklyn. The "Downstate" era began on April 5, 1950 with a special ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, where a merger contract was signed between the Long Island College of Medicine and the newly constituted State University of New York. Several years later, the current campus of SUNY Downstate Medical Center was built in East Flatbush. In April, 1953, ground was broken for the current Basic Sciences Building, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower laid the cornerstone.