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BWH Milestones


2017 In August, researchers presented results from a large scale clinical trial that confirm the Inflammatory Hypothesis. Data from CANTOS (Canakinumab Anti-inflammatory Thrombosis Outcomes Study), a trial designed to test whether reducing inflammation among people who have had a prior heart attack can reduce risk of another cardiovascular event in the future, demonstrate a significant reduction in risk of recurrent heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular death among participants who received a targeted anti-inflammatory drug that lowered inflammation but had no effects on cholesterol. In addition, patients who received the anti-inflammatory therapy canakinumab had a marked reduction in the incidence of lung cancer and lung cancer mortality.

2017 Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center opens New England’s first Adult Cancer Diagnostic Service where experts from both institutions work together to expedite a diagnosis in patients that present with signs or symptoms of cancer and where the appropriate next steps are unclear.

2016 In honor of his many scientific contributions across multiple fields of biology, Stephen J. Elledge, PhD, of BWH’s Division of Genetics, was named one of five recipients of the $3 million 2017 Breakthrough Prize, which recognizes achievements in fundamental physics, life sciences and mathematics.

2016 In October, BWH Invested $4.45 Million over seven years to support community-led health equity efforts taking place in its five priority neighborhoods: Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, Mission Hill & Roxbury.

2016 In October, the Hale Building for Transformative Medicine opened its doors to patients. It is a hub for state-of-the-art labs, outpatient clinical space and advanced imaging facilities. The building brings together leading clinicians and scientists to collaborate on and advance care for patients suffering from a range of diseases, including neurologic, orthopedic and rheumatologic conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

2016 In October, Calum MacRae, MD, chief of Cardiovascular Medicine, was awarded the “One Brave Idea” $75 million prize from the American Heart Association, the Verily Life Sciences Unit of Alphabet and AstraZeneca. The grant will support research that explores coronary artery disease from a variety of new angles including critical genetic and molecular factors.

2016 In August, retired Marine Sergeant John Peck, 31, who became a quad amputee in 2010 after he stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device in Afghanistan during his second tour of duty, received a life-changing bilateral arm transplant.

2016 In July, Jim Ewing underwent a first-of-its-kind surgical amputation procedure at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital led by Matthew Carty, MD. In collaboration with the MIT Media Lab and with the support of the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation, Carty and his colleagues expect that Jim’s brain will interact with a specially made robotic prosthetic.

2016 In July, BWH researchers uncovered evidence that bacteria living in the gut may influence the activity of brain cells involved in controlling inflammation and neurodegeneration—key factors in the development and progression of multiple sclerosis. Their findings were published in Nature Communication.

2016 In July, BWH announced the establishment of the Boston Autologous Islet Replacement Program, a collaboration between Harvard Stem Cell Institute, BWH, Joslin Diabetes Center, Semma Therapeutics and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The program will work toward translating new stem cell discoveries into treatments that could ultimately cure diabetic patients.

2016 In May, the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at BWH released a report, Lung Cancer: A Women’s Health Imperative, to bring greater awareness to the impact this deadly cancer has on women and to demonstrate a need for a national strategy to address the study of sex- and gender-specific aspects of the disease.

2015 In September, geneticist Stephen J. Elledge, PhD, is awarded the 2015 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, also known as “America’s Nobel,” for laying a foundation for understanding how cells detect and repair DNA damage.

2015 In July, BWH achieved its highest-ever ranking on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals, advancing to number six.

2015 In May, BWHC launched eCare, which will integrate clinical, administrative and revenue systems across Mass General Brigham into one comprehensive system.

2015 In May, BWH launched its newest Center of Excellence—the Lung Center—and the Lung Research Center to provide the highest level of personalized pulmonary and thoracic surgery care to patients.

2014 In December, BWH/BWFH hospitalist Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, became the nation’s 19th surgeon general.

2014 In October, Will Lautzenheiser received a double arm transplant at BWH.

2014 In October, the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases launched at BWH—a global collaboration to confront five of the world’s most complex and devastating neurologic diseases.

2014 In April, BWH performed its first transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) without general anesthesia.

2014 In March, BWH’s Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center celebrated its 40th anniversary.

2014 In January, BWH announced the launch of the Heart & Vascular Center—a fully integrated and aligned service dedicated to delivering life-giving breakthroughs for patients.

2013 In November, BWH in conjunction with Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health hosted the first-ever Global Health Summit highlighting the institutions’ collaborations and achievements in the field of global health. The Summit featured three panels of global health experts who discussed their work, experiences and challenges in the field.

2013 In March, BWH researchers make the first ever recommendations about incidental genetic findings. These recommendations outline a list of genetic conditions, genes and variants that laboratories performing clinical sequencing should seek and report to the physicians that ordered the testing- regardless of the original reasons for which the test was ordered.

2013 In March, BWH partnered with the Boston Public Health Commission to launch an innovative program to reduce domestic violence homicides.

2013 In January, BWH researchers found that checklists in the operating room improve performance during crisis. Teams using checklists were 74 percent less likely to miss key life-saving steps in care during emergency situations than those working from memory alone.

2012 In November, the Biomedical Research Institute at BWH awarded the first $100,000 BRIght Futures Prize after a unique competition in which nearly 6,500 online votes from people across the globe determined the winning project. The award was presented to Dr. Robert Green for his project focused on exploring genome sequencing for newborns at BWH’s first annual Research Day.

2012 In October, BWH researchers reported long-term effects of multivitamins for the first time. In a landmark clinical trial, they found that a daily multivitamin taken by men over 50 reduces cancer risk, but does not reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.

2012 In August, BWH researchers launched a new randomized clinical trial, funded by The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), to determine whether lowering inflammation with a common anti-inflammatory drug will in turn reduce rates of recurrent heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death in high risk patients who have already suffered a prior heart attack. This study is the culmination of more than fifteen years of research by investigators worldwide demonstrating that inflammation is a central part of the process that leads to heart attack and stroke.

2012 In July, Brigham and Women's Hospital was once again recognized as one of the nation's top hospitals, ranking ninth in the 2012 U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll of America's Best Hospitals. This year marks the 20th consecutive year that BWH has appeared on the Honor Roll.

2012 In April, researchers at BWH began the first human clinical trial using targeted and programmed nanomedicine to effectively target cancer cells with decreased toxicity using a first-in-class targeted cancer drug called BIND-014.

2012 In February, a team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital implants the first total artificial heart in New England. In this procedure, considered a bridge to transplantation, a device replaces the patient’s heart and pumps blood throughout the body until a donor heart becomes available for transplant.

2011 A multidisciplinary team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital performed the first full face transplantation in the United States, and went on to complete a total of three full face transplants in 2011. BWH also performed its first bilateral hand transplant.

2011 Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute launched Profile, a comprehensive cancer research study aimed at accelerating the development of personalized treatment. Tumor tissue is being tested for 471 mutations across 41 genes using OncoMap technology (developed at Dana-Farber). Testing is done by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Advance Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory.

2011 BWH opened Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) suite, a one-of-a kind, state-of-the-art medical and surgical research environment that houses a complete array of advanced imaging equipment and interventional surgical systems. BWH is home to the National Center for Image-Guided Therapy (NCIGT), which is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) central resource for all aspects of research into image-guided procedures. BWH’s multimodality image-guided operating suite is instrumental to advancing the mission of the NCIGT — to improve patient care.

2011 In May, BWH researchers publish the first evidence a human lung stem cell that is self-renewing and capable of forming and integrating multiple biological structures of the lung including bronchioles, alveoli and pulmonary vessels.

2011 In March 2011 a plastic surgery team, led by Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, performed the first full face transplant in the country. Less than a month later, the team performed the nation's second full face transplant.

2011 Since performing New England’s first heart transplant in 1984, BWH has become one of the busiest cardiac transplantation and circulatory assist programs in New England, with patients’ survival exceeding national averages. In April 2011, BWH performed its 600th heart transplant.

2011 In work that could jumpstart the promising field of cell therapy, in which cells are transplanted into the body to treat a variety of diseases and tissue defects, researchers at BWH have engineered cells that could solve one of the key challenges associated with the procedure: control of the cells and their microenvironment following transplantation.

2011 In January, Brookside Community Health Center kicked off its 40th anniversary of serving the community by honoring the efforts of those who make a difference in Jamaica Plain and its surrounding neighborhoods.

2011 For the fifth consecutive year, BWH is the recipient of a Medal of Honor for Organ Donation, an honor bestowed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2010, BWH had 16 organ donors, matching the record number set in 2009. There were 45 organs recovered and transplanted, as well as 36 tissue donors that benefitted more than 400 patients who received corneal donation, heart valves, skin, bone and tendons.

2010 BWH launches OurGenes, OurHealth, OurCommunity, the largest genetic and environmental research project in New England.

2010 Building off the rich history of transplant surgery at BWH, a multidisciplinary group of both medical and surgical specialists are set to take another step forward in pioneering transplant surgery and begin performing hand transplants.

2010 A team of thoracic surgeons, perfusionists, respiratory therapists and nurses performed ex vivo human lung perfusion for the first time in the United States. Ex vivo perfusion is a way rehabilitating donor lungs by reproducing the conditions of the human body, including breathing, to the point they could be used for transplant

2010 The Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit earned the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence. The Beacon Award is specifically designated to recognize the nation’s top pediatric, progressive, and adult critical care units across a multitude of hospitals.

2010 New research from BWH shows that using both bar-code technology and electronic medication administration record (eMAR) together substantially reduces transcription and medication administration errors as well as related potential drug-related adverse events.

2010 Researchers began enrollment for VITAL, the largest clinical trial to date testing the effects of vitamin D and omega-3 on cancer, heart disease and other conditions. The study will enroll 20,000 participants throughout the U.S.

2010 The US Department of Defense awards BWH a multi-million dollar contract to fund face transplants for veterans of the Iraq War. In 2009, BWH performed the nation's second successful face transplant.


2009 BWH researchers discovered that the drug darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp) that has been used to treat anemia in patients with diabetes and chronic kidney disease for the past two decades was ineffective at boosting hemoglobin levels and preventing cardiovascular problems. The drug also increased patients’ risk of stroke.

2009 Researchers developed a simple surgical checklist that proved to lower the incidence of deaths and complications by more than one third in hospitals around the world that participated in a pilot of the checklist.

2009 In a landmark agreement with Boston's disability community, Brigham and Women’s Hospital has pledged $12 million over the next six years to buy exam tables, mammography units, and X-ray machines to better accommodate the disabled and will purchase lifts and scales that can weigh patients in wheelchairs.

2009 Brigham and Women's Hospital has worked with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to developed Boston’s first public cord blood donation program. Through the program, cord blood is donated to a public bank, where it may be found to match any of the patients around the world who search the National Marrow Donor Program Registry for an available match.

2009 Brigham and Women’s and Faulkner Hospitals (BW/F) have been named top performers in the 2009 Healthcare Equality Index, an annual survey administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. BW/F earned top marks for their treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients and employees. BW/F are two of only 10 hospitals to earn a complete score on all survey dimensions among the 166 participating hospitals and clinics.

2009 A 35-member surgical team at BWH performs a partial face transplant on April 9, the second such procedure to be performed in the U.S. The team includes plastic and ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, physician assistants, residents and technicians who worked for 17 hours to replace the mid-face area of the patient including the nose, hard palate, upper lip, facial skin, muscles of facial animation and the nerves that power them and provide sensation.

2009 BWH became the second hospital in the country to be recognized as having a Comprehensive Academic Sleep Program of Distinction by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), which sets standards and promotes excellence in sleep medicine health care, education and research.

2009 BWH and Mass General open the Brigham and Women’s/Mass General Health Care Center at Patriot Place. The state-of-the-art facility offers convenient primary care and other medical and surgical specialty care to BWH and MGH patients in that area of the state.

2009 BWH performs it first case in the new Hybrid OR in the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center. Among the first of its kind in the country, the Hybrid OR enables staff to perform 3D angiography, CT-like imaging and intravascular ultrasound in an operating room, allowing for patients to have imaging and treatment in one setting, where multiple trips were required in the past.

2008 BWH is the first in the nation to perform transoral obesity surgery, a weight-loss procedure without an incision, giving patients an alternative to traditional obesity surgery, one with a faster and less painful recovery time and a reduced risk for infections and other complications.

2008 Researchers for the first time, using new DNA sequencing technology, identify the unique genetic mutations of a cancerous tumor of an individual patient. The researchers obtained the genetic sequences of all of the expressed genes in tumors from patients with mesothelioma. This approach could become a new standard for discovery of tumor mutations that underlie cancer.

2008 In the landmark JUPITER trial, researchers find a way to cut in half the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death in men and women who had low levels of cholesterol but were still at high risk for vascular disease due to increased levels of inflammation or high sensitivity C-reactive protein.

2008 For the first time, BWH researchers discover a strategy that targets cancer stem cells for destruction, successfully halting one of the deadliest cancers – melanoma. The findings add credence to the hypothesis that stem cells drive cancer progression and lay the groundwork for a possible treatment, showing that targeting stem cells may be a viable strategy in cancer

2008 The first patients are welcomed to the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, as the Watkins Cardiovascular Clinic, which now combines Cardiovascular Medicine, Cardiac Surgery and Vascular Surgery in one location, officially opened in June. The inpatient move took place in July.

2008 The BWH Osher Clinical Center is officially dedicated, offering patients access to a full array of complementary and integrative care from a team of credentialed acupuncturists, chiropractors and massage therapists along with care providers from Medicine, Psychiatry, Nutrition, Physical Therapy and consultations from orthopedics, rheumatology and other conventional specialties.

2008 DF/BWCC opens a new kidney cancer clinic to provide multidisciplinary care, including clinical trails and kidney-sparing surgeries for a difficult cancer that in many cases is not diagnosed until it has spread.

2007 Brigham and Women's Hospital is the first in the world to perform the first clinical cardiac CT with the Toshiba’s AquilionONE, which, at 320 slices, is the most powerful scanner in its class.

2007 Brigham and Women’s has its best year for organ donation yet and receives a medal of honor from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services for impressive rates of organ donation.

2007 BWH receives approval to perform partial facial transplants in selected previous transplant patients, making the hospital just the second in the country able to do so.

2007 A large-scale genomic study has uncovered new genetic variations associated with multiple sclerosis (MS), findings that suggest a possible link between MS and other autoimmune diseases.

2007 Using data collected from over 24,000 initially healthy American women, researchers from BWH have devised a new Web-based formula called the Reynolds Risk Score that for the first time more accurately predicts risk of heart attack or stroke among women.

2007 Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver have been awarded a $37 million grant from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to lead the most comprehensive study of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ever undertaken.

2007 BWH opens the city of Boston’s first Asian Renal Clinic to better serve the approximately 200,000 Asians living in the Boston area.

2007 Omid Farokhzad, MD, and his team in the Nanomedicine and Biomaterials Lab engineer a cancer smart bomb that not only treats and images metastatic prostate cancer tumor cells in vitro, but also reports back on the delivery success of the chemotherapy.

2007 The NIH's Roadmap for Medical Research funds an interdisciplinary consortium at BWH at the level of $24 million over five years with the goal of integrating aspects of different disciplines to address health challenges that have been resistant to traditional research approaches. The SysCODE project (Systems-Based Consortium for Organ Design and Engineering) is led by Richard Maas, MD, PhD.

2006 BWH launches, in collaboration with the NIH and Amgen, the first Women’s Genome Health Study to find the genetic causes for the development of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other common health disorders.

2006 Neurosurgeons performed the hospital's 1000th intraoperative MR-guided brain tumor craniotomy using an open MRI-scanner to produce real-time, high-resolution images of the patient’s brain. The surgeons used the images to guide their incisions to ensure they successfully removed a tumor.

2006 BWH became the first hospital in New England and the second hospital in the nation to implant in a patient the Impella Recover 2.5 – the world’s smallest ventricular assist device (VAD) – during a high-risk angioplasty. This procedure benefits those angioplasty patients with the most compromised heart function.

2006 Brigham and Women's electronic medical administration system, which electronically links physicians writing prescriptions, pharmacists reviewing orders and nurses administering them, according to study findings, has reduced by 85 percent the number of medication errors and by 63 percent potential adverse events.

2006 The National Committee for Quality Health Care (NCQHC), a non-profit organization comprised of industry leaders who share a common interest in quality as the foundation of health care delivery, awarded BWH the2006 National Quality Health Care Award.

2006 BWH became the first gynecologic oncology group in New England to use the da Vinci Robot technology in gynecologic cancer surgeries, which decreases patients' hospital stays.

2006 BWH's Bariatric Surgery Program received accreditation as a Level 1A center of Excellence in 2006 by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). This is the highest level of accreditation, and BWH is the second in the state (14th in the nation) to receive it.

2006 The Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) recently conducted its first radioembolization of the liver – a treatment that offers hope to patients with limited options. Certain tumors that have been unresponsive to chemotherapy have responded to this treatment, which delivers radiation directly to liver tumors and spares healthy tissue, improving survival and the quality of life for patients.

2006 A laser eye scanner has been developed at BWH that is 100 percent accurate in detecting Alzheimer’s disease in mice. The laser scans the eye for the protein beta amyloid, which forms on the edge of the eye, potentially decades before lesions form on the brain.

2006 Custom-designed nanoparticles carrying doses of chemotherapy that can specifically target cancer cells have been created by BWH researchers. These nanoparticles are absorbed by the cancer cell, delivering a lethal dose of chemotherapy and leaving healthy cells unscathed. This therapy, which has been tested and proven successful in mice, in theory can be applied to almost any disease by re-engineering the nanoparticles' properties to carry different drugs and target different cells.

2005 The Brigham and Women's Hospital Biomedical Research Institute (BRI) is established to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery by encouraging interdepartmental and interdisciplinary research among the Hospital's research community. The virtual research institute also serves as an internal and external voice for researchers.

2005 BWH marked its 500th heart transplant, the most for any New England hospital. This historic operation adds BWH to an exclusive list of hospitals nationwide to reach this mark, according to the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS).

2005 The National Institutes of Health granted the BWH Surgical Planning Laboratory a five-year, $19.2 million grant to lead the National Alliance for Medical Image Computing. The grant is being used for the development of software to extract valuable disease information from imaging data, allowing the power of modern imaging machines to characterize diseases and work together in examining new treatment methods.

2005 In recognition of its landmark electronic Medication Administration Record (eMAR) and barcoding system, BWH was a recipient of the first Betsy Lehman Patient Safety Recognition Award for organizational excellence. The award honors Betsy Lehman, a Boston Globe health columnist who died in 1994 when she was accidentally given the wrong dosage of chemotherapy.

2005 BWH the only hospital out of more than 1,200 facilities nationwide that gained perfect scores on the Leapfrog’s Group’s online hospital ranking system of safety and overall value for consumers. The Leapfrog Group, a consortium of more than 170 public and private health care payers, providers, and purchasers issues rankings based on quality and safety standards.

2005 BWH researchers are the first to prove that measuring C-reactive protein (CRP) levels is as important as measuring cholesterol at predicting heart attack.

2005 A prestigious grant of $11 million has been awarded to BWH and Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center for a broad program with the mission of lowering ovarian cancer deaths. The grant, known as SPORE (Specialized Project of Research Excellence), will focus on clinical and bench research related to prevention, early detection and treatment of ovarian cancer.

2005 BWH published significant findings from the renowned TIMI (Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction) trials. One study found that statin drugs’ ability to combat levels of C-reactive protein in one’s blood is just as important as the drugs’ role in reducing cholesterol. Also, BWH cardiologists found that the use of a low molecular weight heparin significantly reduced the risk of repeat heart attack or death.

2005 BWH brings health care to those who need it most in Boston and throughout the world. Gary Gottlieb, MD, MBA, president, co-chaired with Mayor Thomas Menino the city’s Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Disparities, which released a blueprint to reduce those very real disparities in Boston. BWH’s Department of Emergency Medicine sent physicians and nurses to the Gulf of Mexico region following Hurricane Katrina.

2004The final piece of the BWH move to the Electronic Medication Administration System - bringing the electronic medical record online - was put into place. While other hospitals are just beginning the conversion to electronic medical systems, BWH leads the nation with a comprehensive system that links order entry, pharmacy and the medication administration record to improve patient safety.

2004 BWH performed the nation’s first implant of a new dual-chamber implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD). The ICD is uniquely designed to promote natural heart activity and reduce unnecessary pacing in the lower right chamber of the heart.

2004 BWH achieves another transplant "first.” Hundreds of BWH staff - including doctors, nurses and intensive care staff - came in on their weekend time off to make possible five lung transplants in 36 hours.

2003 BWH President Gary Gottlieb, MD, MBA, is invited by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to chair the city’s Workforce Development Committee.

2002 Brigham and Women’s and Dana Farber Cancer Institute create a new name to more accurately describe the fully integrated services they provide for patients: Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

2000 In what is believed to be a "first" in organ transplantation, BWH performs a quadruple transplant. Harvesting four organs from a single donor – a kidney, two lungs and a heart – hospital surgeons give new hope to four patients.


1998 Amid national discourse on the need to reduce errors in medicine, BWH researchers report that the hospital's own computerized drug-order entry system reduces the incidence of serious medication-related errors by 55 percent, setting a new benchmark for the country.

1998 BWH forges an affiliation with Faulkner Hospital in Jamaica Plain, a highly respected community teaching hospital founded in 1900. At Faulkner, patients receive top-notch, routine primary and adult medical and surgical care, as well as mental health, emergency, ambulatory and diagnostic services. Under the new alliance, these patients also gain easy access to BWH should they ever require advanced specialty care.

1996 BWH researchers at the helm of the Cholesterol and Recurrent Events (CARE) trial report that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs (pravastatin) significantly lower heart-attack survivors' risk of recurrent heart attack and death.

1996 The first craniotomy, an operation involving the opening of the skull, is performed inside the Intraoperative Magnetic Resonance Imaging system by BWH neurosurgeons.

1996 BWH becomes one of only 10 hospitals in the country to perform "minimally invasive" aortic valve surgery.

1996 BWH researchers discover that exposure to bright light alone resets the human biological clock and successfully alters by several hours a patient's "circadian pacemaker," which keeps the body's internal system in sync with the external light-dark cycle.

1995 BWH performs the nation's first triple organ transplant, removing three organs from a single donor-two lungs and a heart-and transplanting them into three patients, giving each a new lease on life.

1994 BWH joins with Massachusetts General Hospital to form Partners HealthCare System.

1994 BWH researchers at the helm of the national Survival and Ventricular Enlargement (SAVE) trial report that ace inhibitors (captopril) significantly reduce heart-attack survivors' risk of recurrent heart attack and death.

1994 The 12-story Center for Women and Newborns opens. The facility, which in 1999 is named the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women's Health, sets a new standard in obstetrical and newborn care, featuring home-like birthing suites, private postpartum and antepartum rooms that promote family-focused care, and a 46-bed Newborn Intensive Care Unit with overnight rooms for parents.

1994 BWH unveils the world's first Intra-Operative Magnetic Resonance Imaging System. This invention, which enables clinicians to take images of the body's interior during surgery, makes it possible to cure patients with brain tumors that previously were considered inoperable.

1993 BWH is selected by the National Institutes of Health as one of 16 Vanguard Centers nationwide to help lead the Women's Health Initiative, the largest clinical trial ever undertaken in American women.

1992 A gene responsible for a severe, early-onset form of hypertension which runs in families is identified at BWH.

1992 BWH performs the first heart-lung transplant in Massachusetts.

1992 BWH researchers discover that a protein (amyloid beta) thought to be an early, causative feature of Alzheimer's disease is also present in healthy individuals, and that patients with Alzheimer's produce too much of this protein or cannot break it down properly.

1991 BWH is acknowledged as having received more citations in scientific papers than any other hospital in the world for the period 1986 through 1990.

1991 BWH undertakes five-year Women’s Health Study, an epidemiological study to assess the affects of beta-carotene, vitamin E, and low-dose aspirin on reducing the risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease in women.

1990 Joseph Murray, MD, receives the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his pioneering role in organ transplantation (see 1954, first successful human organ transplant), and his subsequent work in developing immunosuppressive drugs.

1990 BWH performs the first adult lung transplant in Massachusetts

1990 BWH initiates a $3 million, five-year program to combat infant mortality

1980s and Earlier

1989 BWH, through the Physicians Heart Study is the first to prove aspirin could prevent a first heart attack.

1986 Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital establish that methotrexate, previously used exclusively as an anti-cancer drug, is effective in treating severe rheumatoid arthritis, leading to FDA approval of this drug for the treatment of arthritis.

1985 The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, an organization co-founded by BWH cardiologist Bernard Lown, MD.

1984 BWH researchers launch a series of national clinical studies known as the TIMI trials (Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction), which demonstrate that new "clot busting" (thrombolytic) drugs can save heart muscle and improve patients' chances of surviving a heart attack. The series of 24 trials, eight which are ongoing, has revolutionized the care of heart-attack patients.

1984 The first heart transplant in New England is performed at BWH.

1983 The immunosuppressant drug cyclophosphamide is found to be the first effective treatment for progressive multiple sclerosis.

1980 The Brigham and Women's Hospital opens its doors, welcoming patients to new, state-of-the-art facility six years after the formal affiliation of three distinguished predecessors, the Boston Hospital for Women, the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and the Robert Breck Brigham Hospital.

1979 The immunosuppressant drug cyclosporine-A, now standard therapy for organ transplant patients, is first used for the treatment of renal transplant patients (Peter Bent Brigham Hospital).

1976 BWH researchers launch the Nurses' Health Study, enrolling 122,000 women in America's first study of women's health. Launched to explore the link between birth control pills and cancer, the ongoing NHS is examining associations between lifestyle factors (diet, smoking, exercise) and disease.

1966 The Boston Hospital for Women is established through a merger of the Boston Lying-in Hospital and the Free Hospital for Women.

1963 The Clinical Research Center for Juvenile Arthritis is established, one of the first such clinics in the nation (Robert Breck Brigham Hospital).

1962 A DC electric current is first used to restore normal rhythm to a heart (Peter Bent Brigham Hospital).

1956 The first clinic for evaluation of abnormal Pap smears in pregnancy opens (Free Hospital for Women).

1954 The first clinical trials of oral contraceptives get under way (Free Hospital for Women). Dr. John Rock, an obstetrician and gynecologist, conducted the first human trials of “the Pill,” using progestin to suppress ovulation. He worked with leading hormone researcher Dr. Gregory Pincus, who was supported by Margaret Sanger and Katherine McCormick, on what became the first combined oral contraceptive.

1954 The first successful human organ transplant, a kidney transplanted from one identical twin to another, is accomplished. In 1990, Joseph Murray, MD, receives the Nobel Prize for this work and the subsequent development of immunosuppressive drugs (Peter Bent Brigham Hospital).

1949 Cortisone, a steroid treatment used throughout medicine, is first administered to patients with rheumatoid arthritis (Robert Breck Brigham Hospital).

1949 Carl Walter, MD, invents and perfects a way to collect, store and transfuse blood (Peter Bent Brigham Hospital).

1948 The first series of operations is performed for successful repair of stenotic mitral heart valves (Peter Bent Brigham Hospital).

1947 The first artificial kidney machine is developed and perfected for clinical use in the U.S. (Peter Bent Brigham Hospital).

1947 The first Rh exchange transfusion in the U.S. is performed in the treatment of Rh disease (erythroblastosis fetalis) (Peter Bent Brigham Hospital).

1944 Researchers successfully fertilize a human ovum in a test tube (Free Hospital for Women).

1931 The first prenatal clinic opens in New England (Boston Lying-In).

1931 Harvey Cushing, MD, the father of modern neurosurgery, performs his 2,000th brain surgery while serving as chief of Surgery (Peter Bent Brigham Hospital).

1929 The first polio victim is saved using the newly developed Drinker Respirator (iron lung) at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in collaboration with Children's Hospital Medical Center and the Harvard School of Public Health.

1926 Drs. William Murphy, George Whipple and George Minot discover that liver extracts cure pernicious anemia. In 1934, they share the Nobel Prize for this work (Peter Bent Brigham Hospital).

1923 The first successful heart valve surgery in the world is performed at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital by Dr. Eliot Cutler.

1914 The Robert Breck Brigham Hospital, founded with a bequest from Peter Bent Brigham's nephew, opens to serve patients with arthritis and other debilitating joint diseases.

1913 The Peter Bent Brigham Hospital is opened "for the care of sick persons in indigent circumstances" with a bequest from restaurateur and real estate baron Peter Bent Brigham.

1897 The differences between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are characterized for the first time (Robert Breck Brigham Hospital).

1883 Antiseptic techniques are introduced to ward off infection following childbirth, dramatically reducing the maternal/child death rate (Boston Lying-in).

1875 Boston’s first cancer ward opens at the Free Hospital for Women.

1875 The Free Hospital for Women is founded "for poor women affected with diseases peculiar to their sex or in need of surgical aid," according to its mission statement. Each of five beds is sponsored by a different charitable group.

1847 Anesthesia is administered during childbirth in a hospital setting for the first time (Boston Lying-in).

1832 The Boston Lying-in Hospital, one of the nation's first maternity hospitals, opens its doors to women unable to afford in-home medical care following fundraising appeals to individuals and various charitable organizations.


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