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Founded in 1921, Cleveland Clinic was something new in the medical field: a nonprofit group practice, striving for standout care, and supported by research and education. Almost 100 years later, those founding principles remain the same, and along the way, we have achieved a number of notable firsts in the advancement of healthcare, especially in surgery and transplants. Read on for more about how Cleveland Clinic grew to become one of the world’s great medical centers.
The dosimeter is introduced at Cleveland Clinic, increasing radiation safety for patients and launching a new allied health profession.
1930s and 1940s
R.J.F. Renshaw, MD, pioneers early clinical use of the flexible gastroendoscope.
Roy McCullagh, PhD, researches cholesterol-lowering drugs called "inhibins," laying the groundwork for statin research.
In 1941, Dr. Crile, Sr., works with Goodyear to develop a prototype inflatable G-suit based on his 1903 design.
Irvine Page, MD, and colleagues develop a modern research program concentrated on brain chemistry and hypertension. In 1948, they isolate the neurotransmitter serotonin, opening a new age of psychiatric drugs.
George Crile, Jr., MD, son of a Cleveland Clinic founder, pioneers alternatives to radical mastectomy for treating breast cancer.
Eugene Poutasse, MD, and Harriet Dustan, MD, perform the first renovascular surgery to treat hypertension.
In 1950, Willem Kolff, MD, PhD, initiates the first dialysis program in the United States.
In 1951, George Phalen, MD, identifies carpal tunnel syndrome and creates a diagnostic test for it.
In 1956, Donald Effler, MD, and Lawrence Groves, MD, perform the first "stopped heart" operation, using a heart-lung machine developed by Dr. Kolff.
In 1957, Dr. Kolff and Tetsuzo Akutsu, MD, PhD, conduct the first successful experimental implantation of an artificial heart.
In 1960, Robert Hermann, MD, and Edwin Beven, MD, perform one of the world's first liver transplants.
Willem Kolff, MD, PhD, father of artificial organs, invents an inexpensive kidney dialysis machine that popularizes the treatment.
In 1967, René Favaloro, MD, pioneers coronary artery bypass surgery with a new procedure using saphenous vein from the leg.
Left ventricular assist device is developed to help weakened hearts pump blood.
James Hewlett, MD, pioneers exchange of transfusion for a condition called thrombocytopenic purpura, a blood disorder characterized by the destruction of blood platelets.
In 1972, the world's first computerized data registry for cardiac diagnosis and care is unveiled. A patient care registry is also developed for colon cancer (now the Jagelman Registry).
On Jan. 6, 1974, Cleveland Clinic performs the first CAT scan in Ohio.
Cleveland Clinic scientists are among the first to formulate the lipoprotein oxidation theory of atherosclerosis.
Gene Barnett, MD, and Joseph Hahn, MD, develop a brain-mapping technique for epilepsy surgery.
In 1984, Cleveland Clinic surgeons first perform an orthotopic liver transplant, which begins a series of liver transplants.
In 1991, Delos Cosgrove, MD, develops valvuloplasty techniques to repair heart valves.
In 1992, Patrick McCarthy, MD, performs Ohio's first heart-double lung transplant.
In 1998, Marshall Strome, MD, performs world's first laryngeal transplant.
In 2003, Qing Wang, PhD, and colleagues identify the first gene linked to heart attacks.
Cleveland Clinic records two laparoscopic firsts: single-port kidney removal and colon resection.
In 2008, Charis Eng, MD, PhD, discovers two genes linked to cancer.
In 2008, Bruce Trapp, PhD, discovers growth of new neurons in adult brains.
In 2008, Maria Siemionow, MD, PhD, leads the team that performs America's first face transplant.
No. 1 For Heart Care
In 1995, U.S.News & World Report names Cleveland Clinic No. 1 for heart care for the first time. Cleveland Clinic was also in the top 10 in the nation for gastroenterology, neurology and urology.
In 2003, Cleveland Clinic Nursing received Magnet® status, the highest national award for nursing excellence.
Model of High-Quality Care
In 2009, President Barack Obama extolled Cleveland Clinic as a model of high-quality, patient-centered care.