SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
College of Medicine
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.
The College of Medicine's primary mission is to make high-quality education available to New York State's next generation of health professionals. On a broader level, our work has the potential to influence the future of the medical profession and the network of social institutions that support the provision of health care. To do this, we must educate our students, preparing them to be competent and caring physicians in the scientific and social context in which they will work. Through basic and clinical research, we must advance the understanding of basic mechanisms underlying health and disease and develop new strategies for the prevention and treatment of illness. Lastly, we have the opportunity to serve as leaders of the health-related network in our community in order to foster quality health care for the residents of Brooklyn and neighboring boroughs.