Our history

Department of Medicine, 1948

The Department of Medicine was founded in 1948 with an original group of six stellar faculty members teaching and practicing at a single site.

We are now the largest department at the University of Washington.

This is unpublished

Our Beginning

Dr. Robert H. Williams
Dr. Robert H. Williams

In 1948, Dr. Robert H. Williams took a risk. The nationally prominent endocrinologist, who had spent 14 years at Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, and Harvard, accepted an appointment as the chair of the newly established Department of Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

The medical school was only two years old.


"I thought to myself that if I were given the opportunity to go to an established school or to a new one, I would choose the latter if the opportunity existed for excellence. After all, it's not what is, but what is going to be. I knew that we were going to develop something tremendous here. I have never been disappointed."

Timeline of early years

Harborview, 1931. Courtesy MOHAI.

1877: King County Welfare Hospital Opened

(became Harborview Medical Center, 1931)

Seattle UW Campus 1930. Courtesy Saddlebags and Scanners.

1946: School of Medicine established     

Department of Medicine 1948

1948: Department of Medicine established

Seattle VA, 1970s

1951: VA hospital affiliation                             


UW Medical Center

1959: University hospital opened