Key Dates

1930s1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s  

Wake Forest School of Medicine (formerly Bowman Gray School of Medicine) was founded in 1902 as a two-year medical school on the campus of Wake Forest College. North Carolina Baptist Hospital opened in 1923 as an 88-bed hospital in Winston-Salem. The medical school expanded to four years and moved to Winston-Salem in 1941. Brenner Children's Hospital and Health Services was established in 1986.

The Medical Center now has 100 buildings on 290 acres, including a 196-acre research farm and a downtown research center. With more than 11,000 employees associated with its main campus, the Medical Center is the largest employer in Forsyth County, North Carolina.

Historical Highlights

1935   

Bowman Gray Sr suffers a fatal heart attack while on a cruise with his family.

1939

A trust fund of $750,000 established in the will of Bowman Gray Sr. is pledged to relocate the School of Medicine at Wake Forest College to Winston-Salem.


1941

Bowman Gray School of Medicine opens in Winston-Salem on the grounds of N.C. Baptist Hospital with 45 new first-year students and 30 second-year students.  

1942 - 1944

Baptist Hospital adds programs to train dieticians, nurse anesthetists, and X-ray and medical technologists.  

1943

First graduating class of Bowman Gray School of Medicine receives M.D. degrees.  

1947

The School of Pastoral Care opens. 

1947

James A. Gray, the brother of Bowman Gray Sr. establishes a trust for 11 North Carolina colleges and universities, with the biggest gift, $900,000, going to the Bowman Gray School of Medicine.


1952

James A. Gray dies of a heart attack.

 1956 

Wake Forest College moves to Winston-Salem on part of the Reynolda Estate, former home of the late R.J. Reynolds.

Davis Memorial Chapel built in memory of Annie Pearl Shore Davis and in honor of Egbert L. Davis Sr.

Educational role of Baptist Hospital expands with the development of separate schools in medical technology, cytotechnology, X-ray technology, nurse anesthesia, medical records librarians, practical nursing and pastoral counseling.  

1957

The Medical Center becomes the first in North Carolina to use cobalt to treat cancer patients.  

1959

Department of Clinics incorporates a professional practice plan - the first of its kind in the nation - now named Wake Forest University Physicians.  


1964 

Both the medical school and hospital adopt desegregation policies related to education, employment and patient care.

Jesse Meredith, M.D., performs the first hand reimplantation in the United States.  

1968

Medical school establishes a Division of Allied Health Sciences and begins Physician Assistant Program.  

1969

Ultrasound is used to detect prostate cancer - first in the nation.  


1974 

Bowman Gray/Baptist Hospital Medical Center organization officially adopted.  

1975

Reynolds Health Center opens and is staffed by Bowman Gray faculty.  

1977

Obstetrical services in Forsyth County are consolidated with the opening of new facilities at Forsyth Memorial Hospital.  

1979

Bowman Gray School of Medicine establishes the nation's first toll-free hotline for information about epilepsy.


1981 

Brenner Center for Adolescent Medicine opens, first of its kind in the state.

1982

Level I Trauma Center established.  

1983

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system installed, first in the state at an academic medical center.

The Medical Center is first in the nation to use transcranial Doppler ultrasound, used to measure atherosclerotic buildup on the walls of the carotid artery and to image the arterial circulation in the brain.

Program aimed at increasing minority representation in medicine started at Bowman Gray, is supported by a $335,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  

1985

Formal affiliation agreement is signed between the Bowman Gray School of Medicine and one of the largest medical centers in the People's Republic of China - Zhongshan Medical Center (later renamed the Sun Yat-Sen University of Health Sciences).  

1986

Brenner Children's Hospital is established as part of Baptist Hospital through a gift from the Brenner Foundation.

Baptist Hospital establishes AirCare, a helicopter emergency medical service.

The Medical Center is first in the nation to use lithotripsy to break up common duct gallstones. 

1988

Medical school begins academic affiliation with Tokai University of Japan.  

1989

Bone marrow transplantation program is established.

Medical Center surgeons perform the first single-lung transplant in North Carolina.  


1990 

National Cancer Institute designates the Cancer Center of Wake Forest University as a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Medical Center cardiologists become the first in North Carolina to successfully open a blocked artery using a laser.

The Medical Center is first in North Carolina to have a molecular cytogenetics (cell genetics) laboratory and to use sterotactic radio surgery to treat tumors and blood vessel abnormalities deep within the brain.  

1991

Medical Center is named a Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center.  

1997

Hospital and medical school undergo realignment to become Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Medical school is renamed Wake Forest School of Medicine.

The medical school establishes a Women's Health Center of Excellence, one of 16 centers nationwide designated by the U.S. Public Health Service.

J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging and Rehabilitation opens. The first facility in the world to incorporate geriatric acute care, transitional care, psychiatry and rehabilitation under one roof.  

1998

Medical school institutes innovative new curriculum, combining small-group problem-solving approach, early clinical experience, and new technology.  

1999

Certificates of need are granted for two major projects: a 47,000-square-foot Downtown Health Plaza to replace Reynolds Health Center, and a tower addition that will house an expanded Brenner Children's Hospital.

BestHealth opens, North Carolina's first community health resource center located at Hanes Mall. BestHealth55, an associated seniors-membership program, and BestHealth Kids begin operation.

Medical school receives $40.6 million research grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders, the largest in the school's history.

The Medical Center installs the first Gamma Knife in North Carolina.

The Medical Center is first in the world to report the successful use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose significant blockages in blood vessels leading to the heart.

Wayne VonSeggen, PA-C, a Medical Center employee, is the first physician assistant ever elected to the N.C. Medical Board and is later elected president.  


2000

The Medical Center purchases the former Charter Behavioral Health System property on Old Vineyard Road and establishes Wake Forest Baptist Behavioral Health, Inc.

The medical school announces plans to hire more than 60 new faculty members in five research areas and strengthen its support of other research efforts as part of $67 million initiative.

The medical school establishes a Center for Human Genomics to facilitate the identification of high-risk genes linked to common diseases, enabling improved treatment for these diseases.

The Medical Center establishes a Forensic Nurse Examiner Program within its Emergency Department to treat victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

The Downtown Health Plaza of Baptist Hospital opens, replacing Reynolds Health Center.  

2001

Physicians at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center are the first in the world to treat a brain tumor patient with the newly FDA-approved GliaSite Radiation Therapy System.

The Medical Center becomes the home of the national office of the seven-year, $100 million Faith in Action program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Medical Center breaks ground for its new Outpatient Comprehensive Cancer Center. The $75 million, 257,530-square-foot building will consolidate all the center's existing outpatient oncology services under one roof. 

2002

Researchers from the School of Medicine and Advanced Cell Technology of Worcester, Mass., report that they have developed a large variety of specialized cell types from embryonic monkey stem cells through a process called parthenogenesis.

The School of Medicine establishes the Maya Angelou Research Center on Minority Health. Board members include Coretta Scott King and Andrew Young.

The new Ardmore Tower West is opened. The $132 million, 400,000-square-foot tower includes 11 new floors, six of which house Brenner Children's Hospital. The other five floor contain operating and surgical areas, space for outpatient hospital services and cardiac catheterization labs.  

2003

Wake Forest Baptist researchers are the first to report that unidentified genes on chromosomes 18 and 3 are linked to severe kidney damage in younger blacks with diabetes.

Scientists at the Comprehensive Cancer Center developed a colony of mice that successfully fight off virulent transplanted cancers. The discovery of this genetic protection could explain why some people are protected against cancer despite prolonged and intense exposure to carcinogens. 

2004

A Medical Center researcher is the first to report that humidity and temperature levels can affect the results of LASIK surgery. For best results, physicians should take these factors into account when calibrating laser equipment.
Outpatient Comprehensive Cancer Center, a 250,000-square-foot facilty, opens.

Ground broken for the first new research building in the expanded Piedmont Triad Research Park, a 186,000-square-foot, five-story structure with laboratory and office space.

Internationally recognized tissue engineering program moves to Wake Forest to become Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

A pulmonologist at the Medical Center was the first to show that patients with cystic fibrosis have very little mucous in their airways -- not as much as was previously thought.

Medical Center researchers identified a gene involved in the action of insulin that is associated with type 2 diabetes. One common form of the gene seems to be associated with diabetes -- another common form seems to be protective.

2005

The Medical Center is the first in North Carolina and surrounding states to install magnetoencephalography (MEG) -- an innovative diagnostic tool that non-invasively measures minute magnetic brain activity and provides information about the location of normal and abnormal brain functions.

WFSM establishes laboratory to develop transgenic and knockout mice to model human disease and shed light on function of human genes.

Neurobehavioral Research Laboratory and Clinic, which studies implusive behavior, moves to Wake Forest from University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. 

2006

Biotechnology Research Facility 1, housing the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the Lipid Sciences Research Program, opens in Piedmont Triad Research Park.

Wake Forest Baptist announces that it will become completely "tobacco-free", effective July 1, 2007.

 2007

Wake Forest Baptist announces major restructuring under a "single-CEO" organization. Len B. Preslar Jr. retires after 19 years as president of N.C. Baptist Hospital. Richard H. Dean, M.D., retires after 10 years as head of WFU health programs.

Wake Forest Baptist announces plans to build a replacement hospital in eastern Davie County and a primary care center in Mocksville. 

 2008

Wake Forest Baptist, Moses Cone Health System and High Point Regional Health System form the Healthcare Alliance, LLC, in order to strengthen their working relationship, improve quality and explore opportunities to reduce costs. 

John D. McConnell, M.D., is named as the first chief executive officer of the Medical Center. 

Wake Forest Baptist's first primary care center and walk-in clinic open in Mocksville. 

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Last Updated: 01-30-2013
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