UI Department of Anesthesia - History

The Department of Anesthesia at The University of Iowa dates from 1911 when Dr. Lewis G. Harding, a general practitioner in the town of Solon, Iowa, came to The University of Iowa Hospitals to “drop ether.” By 1915, Dr. Harding had established regular teaching rotations for senior medical students, and shortly thereafter, established the first formal residency training program to be instituted in an American university. Dr. Mary Ross was the first resident to graduate from the program; her certificate is dated June 5, 1923. In 1930, Dr. Harding was succeeded by Dr. Dorothy Dimond who was chief of Anesthesia until 1937.

The accession of Dr. Stuart Cullen to the Chair of the Division of Anesthesia in 1937 marked the beginning of an exceptionally productive era in academic anesthesiology at Iowa. Dr. Cullen was not only a superb clinician and teacher, but also brought the added dimensions of genuine scholarship and academic innovation. Under Dr. Cullen’s leadership some of the earliest studies on the use of curare were performed and many other aspects of clinical anesthesia were investigated. Dr. Cullen was an editor of the journal Anesthesiology and a founding father of the American Board of Anesthesiology. He remained Chairman until 1957, when he was succeeded by Dr. William K. Hamilton. The Division of Anesthesia in the Department of Surgery became the Department of Anesthesia in 1963 under Dr. Hamilton. Dr. Hamilton was succeeded by Dr. Jack Moyers (1968-1977), Dr. Wendell Stevens (1977-1982), Dr. John Tinker (1983-1997), and Dr. David Brown (1998-2004).

The latest chapter in the history of the Department came in July, 2004, when Dr. Michael Todd, then Editor-in-Chief of the ASA's official journal Anesthesiology, assumed the helm of Chairman. Dr. Todd is one of only a select group of people to serve this prestigious role of EIC for the Journal, and his long association with the Journal makes him possibly the most well-known anesthesiologist in the world. With Dr. Todd's unparalleled record in research and academics, we look forward to a new era in scholarly achievement in the Department of Anesthesia.

Since its inception, the Department of Anesthesia at The University of Iowa has educated more than 400 anesthesiologists. Eighteen former residents have served as heads of departments of anesthesiology at American medical colleges.

The Department has been, and continues to be, well-represented on editorial boards of major anesthesia journals; provides refresher course lectures for the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists; has physician-researchers who are recognized by NIH as independent funded principal investigators; provides many Board Examiners for the oral exams of the American Board of Anesthesiology; and has earned high national ranking because of these and other objective accomplishments.