As Downstate’s Sesquicentennial Celebration rapidly approaches, we can all look back with pride. Downstate traces its roots to 1860, the year the first medical school class graduated from what was then the Long Island College Hospital Collegiate Division.
The class was small – only 21 members – but the vision was large and the future was bright. The new school was hospital-based, and would teach physicians in a way that had not been done before. The result is an institution that has grown, prospered, and contributed much to the nation and the world.
We don’t know much about those first graduates. We do have a photo of them sitting proudly together, a look of determination in their eyes. They began their careers as healers against the backdrop of the impending Civil War, a time when the science of medicine was young. There were no antibiotics for infection, no vaccines to mitigate pandemic illnesses, and few treatments beyond surgical excision.
Since that time, both medicine and SUNY Downstate have come a long way. We have graduated thousands of physicians and other health professionals. Our reputation for clinical strength has endured, and a significant number of our alumni and faculty have made their mark in their disciplines.
Today, SUNY Downstate is a major medical university with five professional schools and a vibrant hospital and medical practice. It is also an economic catalyst for Brooklyn, New York City, and New York State. We have trained more physicians practicing in Brooklyn and New York City than any other medical school, and we boast the most diverse student body and faculty to be found anywhere.