Barnes-Jewish Hospital | Washington University Physicians

HISTORY

milestones from the archives

LEARNING TO SEE INSIDE THE BODY

BY Connie Mitchell

William Röntgen produced the first X-ray of a human body in 1895. Photo courtesy of Science Photo Library

William Röntgen produced the first X-ray of a human body in 1895. Photo courtesy of Science Photo Library.

The very first X-ray image is a blurry, ghostlike view of a woman’s left hand, two sizable wedding rings visible on her third finger. Using his wife as his test subject, German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen used the power of the X-ray to gaze at bones beneath his wife’s skin, something he couldn’t have done before without an incision. Six years later, Röntgen won the 1901 Nobel Prize in Physics. The practice of medicine had changed forever.

The early years

In 1896, just a month after the first X-ray became public, Charles Curtman, an analytical chemist at the Mallinckrodt Chemical Co. and instructor at Missouri Medical College, the predecessor to Washington University School of Medicine, delivered a lecture about the new technology to a packed auditorium of physicians, chemists and alumni. Clearly, the medical world was sitting up and taking notice of Rontgen’s wondrous new discovery.

The following year, the British Institute of Radiology was established, now the oldest radiological society in the world. Physicians with access to the new technology looked at fuzzy images developed on glass plates until film was introduced in 1918. During the early 20th century, the new ability to image bones was called roentgenology, in homage to Röntgen. Academic medical centers began to create roentgenology departments, and even in the earliest days of this nascent field of medicine, physicians and scientists began to explore the possibilities for using X-rays in treatment as well as diagnosis.

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MAKING MEDICINE

MAKING MEDICINE

BY CONNIE MITCHELL

Some call it the “therapeutic pipeline.” Others refer to it as “bench to bedside.” Both phrases refer to the scientific process that delivers new therapies, new medicines, to people who are sick. In the pipeline metaphor, an idea rushes along, like water in a hose, from the minds of researchers into the lab, through testing and approvals to the pharmacy or treatment room. In the bench metaphor, progress is similarly linear, advancing from the scientist’s bench in the lab to the patient’s bedside. But neither image paints an accurate picture.

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PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF FERTILITY CARE

PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF FERTILITY CARE

BY ANDRREA MONGLER

The first baby conceived by in vitro fertilization, or IVF, was born in 1978 in Manchester, England. In 1985, a couple from Creve Coeur gave birth to Missouri’s first baby conceived by IVF at what was then called Jewish Hospital. The technology was controversial in its early days. The idea of “creating” a baby in a lab felt strange to some and raised ethical concerns in others.

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SITEMAN CANCER CENTER AT 20: A RETROSPECTIVE

SITEMAN CANCER CENTER AT 20: A RETROSPECTIVE

BY PAM MCGRATH
IMAGES COURTESY OF WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND SITEMAN CANCER CENTER

When Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine established the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center in 1999, the partnering institutions already shared a decades-long history of advancing cancer research and treatment.

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THE STORY OF TRANSPLANT AT BARNES-JEWISH HOSPITAL

THE STORY OF TRANSPLANT AT BARNES-JEWISH HOSPITAL

BY JOYCE ROMINE

Scientists and physicians experimented with organ transplantation using animals and humans as early as the 18th century. And though replacing a failing organ with a foreign organ has always been a significant surgical feat, it alone couldn’t save lives. Once the new organ was in place, the recipient’s body strenuously objected, mounting a deadly response. For decades, organ rejection was the stumbling block, the thing that drove researchers back to their labs, where they worked for decades looking for answers.

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FROM BATTLEFIELD TO MEDICAL SPECIALTY

FROM BATTLEFIELD TO MEDICAL SPECIALTY

BY JOYCE ROMINE

War is hell. This simple yet dramatic phrase, coined in the Civil War, also applies to World War I, which brought unprecedented carnage and destruction. If there is a silver lining to such events, perhaps it is found in the advances they bring to the practice of medicine. The ugliness of battle forces field surgeons to find better ways to care for wounded soldiers. And after the war ends, these advances benefit civilians at home.

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TRANSPLANT THEN & NOW

TRANSPLANT THEN & NOW

BY CONNIE MITCHELL

In December 1954, physicians in Boston did something revolutionary. They transplanted a kidney into a 23-year-old patient: the first successful organ transplant in history. Now, 64 years later, organ transplants save tens of thousands of lives each year. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that U.S. transplant teams performed more than 19,000 kidney transplants in 2016 alone.

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