Department of Medicine History and Milestones

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is an international leader in virtually every area of medicine and has been the site of pioneering breakthroughs that have improved lives around the world.

The following is a listing of notable Department of Medicine milestones:


JoAnn E. Manson, MD, MPH, DrPH, chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine, was honored with the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Research Achievement Award during the AHA’s 2020 Scientific Sessions for outstanding career contributions to cardiovascular research.

Diane Gold, MD, MPH, Channing Division of Network Medicine, received the American Thoracic Society’s World Lung Health Award for her extraordinary contributions to improving lung health worldwide. This award recognizes physicians and scientists in the area of translational or implementation research, delivery of health care, continuing education or care of patients with lung disease, or related political advocacy with a special emphasis on efforts that have the potential to eliminate gender, racial, ethnic or economic health disparities worldwide.

Duane Wesemann, MD, PhD, Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and his team examined blood samples and cells from patients who had recovered from mild to moderate COVID-19, and found a subset of individuals that healed quickly while sustaining virus-specific antibody levels. These antibody “sustainers” had a shorter course of symptoms, suggesting that some individuals who recover from COVID-19 faster may be mounting a more effective and durable immune response to the virus. Results are published in Cell.

Xiaowen Wang, MD, Division of Infectious Diseases, and colleagues at BWH and MGH found that universal masking at Mass General Brigham was associated with significantly lower rates of COVID-19 positivity among healthcare workers after implementing an infection reduction strategy, which included testing of symptomatic healthcare workers and universal masking of all healthcare workers and patients with surgical masks. These findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


Ann Woolley, MD, MPH, Division of Infectious Diseases, demonstrated 100% success rate in the prevention of transmission of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) from infected organ donors to recipients in need of hearts or lungs in the DONATE HCV Trial, thereby expanding the pool of eligible heart and lung donor organs. Their results are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Sari Reisner, ScD was appointed Director of Transgender Research in the section of Men’s Health, Aging, and Metabolism, a unit within the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension. Dr. Reisner’s research focuses on health inequities in sexual and gender minority populations, specializing in transgender population health, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and mental health and substance use risks and resiliencies in adolescents and young adults.

In November, Brigham and Women’s Hospital announced a gift from Frank and Barbara Resnek to support the launch of the Resnek Family Center for Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) Research, the first research center of its kind in the nation – and the largest investment in PSC research nationally and around the world. Under the direction of Joshua Korzenik, MD, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Endoscopy, the Resnek Center will take a multipronged approach to developing new therapies for PSC, a rare, chronic liver disease for which the only effective therapy is a liver transplant.

The former Division of Rheumatology, Immunology, and Allergy split into two separate and distinct divisions: the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and the Division of Rheumatology, Inflammation, and Immunity. This split enables these divisions to pursue their clinical, research, and training missions with appropriate focus, identity, and recognition, while continuing to benefit from a collaborative research infrastructure.


David Levine, MD, MPH, MA, Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care, and his team created a project called the Home Hospital – the first randomized, controlled clinical trial to test the home hospital model in the U.S. Instead of admitting patients to the hospital, the program cares for and monitors patients at home using cutting-edge monitoring technology.

Mohamed Shehata Draz, MSc, PhD, Division of Engineering in Medicine, and colleagues developed a way to rapidly and accurately diagnose Zika using affordable new technology to transform a smartphone into a device capable of detecting intact copies of the Zika virus, that could potentially be deployed in resource-limited settings.

Mass General Brigham and Boston Medical Center, in partnership with the NIH, announced the launch of the All of Us Research Program, a bold effort to gather data from 1 million or more people, with the goal of accelerating research and improving health. The program is one of the most far-reaching research initiatives of our time, engaging and building trust in communities that have been underrepresented in medical research, including Hispanic and Latino, African-American, LGBTQ, rural, and lower-income communities, as well as those with mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction.


Investigators in the Channing Division of Network Medicine and the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine discovered 13 new genetic regions associated with COPD, including four that had not previously been associated with any type of lung function. The researchers also found overlap of the genetic risk of COPD with two other lung diseases: asthma and pulmonary fibrosis. These findings create an improved understanding of the genetic basis for this deadly disease.

The One Brave Idea™ Science Innovation Center opened to house the activities of Calum MacRae, MD, PhD, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, and the Cardiovascular Medicine Innovation team for their groundbreaking work for One Brave Idea, a $75 million research enterprise charged with bringing an end to coronary heart disease and its consequences.


The BWH Center for NanoImaging was formed with support from the NIH-sponsored National Resource for Imaging Mass Spectrometry (NRIMS). Led by the Division of Genetics, the mission of the Center is to extend multi-isotope imaging mass spectrometry (MIMS) to new areas of biology and biomedical research, including with human translational studies conducted at BWH and collaborating medical centers.

TIME named Raj Panjabi, MD, MPH, Division of Global Health Equity, among the 100 Most Influential People in the World for his work as co-founder of Last Mile Health, a charity that brings medical care to some of the most remote corners of Liberia. Dr. Panjabi also received the $1 million TED prize to create the Community Health Academy to empower hundreds of thousands of community health workers across the world.


In September, Stephen J. Elledge, PhD, Division of Genetics 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.

In May, BWH launched a new 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. The Lung Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) provides comprehensive, customized care for all lung patients by bringing together a multidisciplinary team of medical and surgical experts from the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and Thoracic Surgery and the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology within Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center.

In September, the Department of Medicine launched a new division, the Division of Palliative Medicine, to relieve suffering and enhance quality of life for people living with serious illness and their families.


In March, BWH’s Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center celebrated its 40th anniversary. Primary Care physicians within the Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care see more than 25,000 visits each year at this health center.

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. The way we deliver care to our patients within the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center– integrating all of our cardiovascular services in a Center of Excellence with a truly collaborative environment that fosters teamwork amongst all of our specialists. The Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Heart & Vascular Center provides comprehensive, patient-centered care for men and women with heart disease.


In March, a report of the recommendations, led by Robert C. Green, MD, MPH, Division of Genetics, outlined 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.


In October, a first-of-its-kind clinical trial, led by J. Michael Gaziano, MD, chief of the Division of Aging at BWH, and Howard D. Sesso, ScD, an associate epidemiologist in the BWH Division of Preventive Medicine, 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.

In August, Paul M Ridker, MD, principal investigator and member of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, 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.

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. Other top 10 specialties include: Cardiology and Heart Surgery (#9), Diabetes and Endocrinology (#7), Nephrology(#6), Pulmonary (#10), and Rheumatology (#5). This year marks the 20th consecutive year that BWH has appeared on the Honor Roll.

In July, the Department of Medicine launched a new division, the Channing Division of Network Medicine, focused on applying systems biology and network science approaches to complex diseases.


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. Brookside Community Health is one of the Health Centers within the Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care.


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. The academic sleep program at BWH is led by co-directors, Charles A. Czeisler, PhD, MD, Chief of the Division of Sleep Medicine, and Atul Malhotra, MD, Medical Director of the BWH Sleep Disorders Research Program.

BWH and Mass General Hospital (MGH) 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.


The BWH Osher Clinical Center is officially dedicated, offering patients access to a full array of complimentary 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 Orthopaedics, Rheumatology, and other specialties.

In the landmark JUPITER trial, Paul Ridker, MD, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and more than a dozen other BWH investigators found 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.

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.


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


BWH launched, 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. BWH investigators in the Women's Genome Health Study included Dr. Julie E Buring, senior epidemiologic investigator, Dr. Daniel Chasman, director of Computational Biology, Dr. Robert Zee, director of the Laboratory for Genetic Epidemiology, and Dr. David Kwiatkowski, Division of Medical Oncology and of the Harvard Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics.


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.


BWH was one of the first hospitals in the nation to establish an independent Division of Sleep Medicine within the Department of Medicine.

1990s and Earlier

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.

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.

1980: Brigham and Women’s Hospital opens its doors, welcoming patients to a 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.

1963: The Clinical Research Center for Juvenile Arthritis is established, one of the first such clinics in the nation.

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 opens the medical wards and appoints its first chief of medicine, Dr. Henry Christian.

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