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Medical Center Firsts

When the fledgling Bowman Gray School of Medicine and N.C. Baptist Hospital entered into a partnership in 1941, it created the foundation for the nationally renowned academic medical center that exists today.

Throughout the decades, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has set high standards in its clinical work, research, administration work and education. The timeline that follows highlights some of the key achievements through those years that have brought national, and even international, recognition.



The ‘fat’ chemist

Camilo Artom, MD, a scientist with an international reputation in lipid metabolism, bolsters the faculty at Bowman Gray. Click for more.




Merging clinical practice and faculty

The Department of Clinics within Bowman Gray School of Medicine incorporates a professional practice plan – the first of its kind in the nation. The plan, known for years as Wake Forest University Physicians, today is recognized through the physician practices of Wake Forest Baptist Health.




Reattaching a severed human hand

Jesse H. Meredith, MD, performs the nation's first hand reimplantation when an inmate on a road crew is injured. Click for more.




Putting a kidney on ice

William H. Boyce, MD, develops a technique that becomes standard procedure around the world for removing large stones. Click for more.




Using ultrasound to detect prostate cancer

A team at N.C. Baptist Hospital led by William Boyce, MD, help develop the use of ultrasound for evaluation of the prostate. Click for more.




A hotline for epilepsy

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




Novel use of imaging

N.C. Baptist Hospital is the first in the nation to use transcranial Doppler ultrasound to measure atherosclerotic buildup on the walls of the carotid artery. Later, N.C. Baptist is the first to image arterial circulation in the brain to determine whether drugs and other treatments were stabilizing or reversing atherosclerosis.




A liquid mistaken for wine leads to mass casualty

Nine young people at a party in Conover wind up at N.C. Baptist Hospital after drinking liquid lye, and survive multiple surgeries on their stomachs and esophagi. Click for more.




“We felt like this could be a real clinical tool”

Gary Poehling, MD, leads a conference at N.C. Baptist Hospital that helps define and teach orthopaedic physicians the new technique of wrist arthroscopy. Click for more.




Lithotripsy used for gallstones

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




Early novel efforts to cure AIDS

Louis Kucera, PhD, is among the first scientists in the world racing to find ways to treat AIDS, and in the process, forms one of the School of Medicine's first spinout companies. Click for more.




A device to help epileptics

Neurologist J. Kiffin Penry, MD, helps N.C. Baptist Hospital become the first in the nation to implant a newly approved device under an epileptic's skin, using electrical impulses to control seizures. Click for more.




Helping patients in wound treatment globally

Two School of Medicine professors, Louis Argenta, MD, and Michael Morykwas, PhD, design a vacuum-assisted wound-closure device that has since been used on millions of patients around the world. Click for more.




Fighting long-held beliefs in kidney disease

Barry Freedman, MD, has spent his career fighting to prove his theory that genetic or inherited factors account for much of the racial difference in non-diabetic kidney disease. His theories have proven correct. Click for more.




A unique place to serve the aging

The J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging and Rehabilitation becomes one of the first centers in the world to combine geriatric care, sub-acute care, rehabilitation, psychiatric care, comprehensive ambulatory geriatric assessment, geriatric primary care and research under one roof. Click for more.




Success with MRIs and the heart

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center researcher W. Gregory Hundley, MD, leads colleagues in two “world-first” efforts with magnetic resonance imaging in less than a year. Click for more.




A new therapy in treating brain cancer

The Medical Center becomes the first in the nation to use newly FDA-approved GliaSite Radiation Therapy to treat brain cancer, in which cancerous tissue is targeted with a liquid source of radiation delivered through a balloon catheter. Click for more.




Broadcasting to the world via the Internet

The Medical Center becomes the first in the world to demonstrate in a live Internet broadcast the implantation of a deep brain stimulator to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease. This also was the first live Webcast of a surgical procedure of any kind in North Carolina. Click for more.




Maya Angelou lends her voice to health disparity

Led by renowned poet, author and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou's desire to effect change in closing the health gap between minorities and the rest of the population, the School of Medicine creates the Maya Angelou Research Center on Minority Health. Click for more.




A mission to create organs and tissues

Anthony Atala, MD, joins the Medical Center to start the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, inaugurating an era of national and international breakthroughs in a field that holds the potential to develop replacement organs and tissues for virtually every part of the human body. Click for more.




Setting a new course for women in menopause

The Medical Center is among a handful in the nation to participate in a study that disproves long-held beliefs about the potential benefits of hormone replacement therapy for post-menopausal women, with the key research focusing on the issue of cognitive function. Click for more.




Making LASIK surgery more effective

Ophthalmologist Keith Walter, MD, shows that humidity in the treatment room can affect the outcome of LASIK surgery. His study becomes the national standard for adjusting indoor humidity in the treatment room prior to LASIK surgery. Click for more.




Showing the dangers of energy drinks

When energy drinks became common on college campuses in the mid-2000s, little was known about the effects of drinking them. The earliest research and warnings about the drinks came from a team of researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine led by Mary Claire O'Brien, MD. Click for more.




Using Botox to help treat spasticity after stroke

Allison Brashear, MD and chair of Neurology at the Medical Center, reports that a multicenter study shows repeated treatments of Botox significantly decreases spasticity, or muscle tightness, as well as pain frequency and average pain intensity in the upper limbs after a stroke. Click for more.




A new approach to helping kids fight obesity

Brenner Children's Hospital starts Brenner FIT (Families in Training), one of the most comprehensive pediatric obesity programs in the nation. Its efforts, as well as related research, focus on helping families overcome obstacles to reducing obesity in children. Click for more.




Using genomics to predict prostate cancer

A team of genomics researchers at the School of Medicine report that a simple blood test can help predict which men are likely to develop prostate cancer. Click for more.




A pioneer in using robotics for surgery

Minimally invasive surgery is the key treatment today for urologic cancer, and Ashok Hemal, MD, director of the Medical Center's Robotic and Minimally Invasive Urologic Surgery Program, completed groundbreaking research to compare the two modern techniques of laparoscopic and robotic surgery. Click for more.




Developing a protein to destroy brain cancer cells

Waldemar Debinski, MD, PhD, director of the Thomas K. Hearn Jr. Brain Tumor Research Center, announces a major research breakthrough showing how a specially designed protein can be made to target and destroy certain brain tumor cells. Click for more.




Partnership in automotive safety

The School of Medicine is chosen as one of six leading research institutions across the United States to partner with Toyota's Collaborative Safety Research Center in the development, testing and implementation of automotive safety innovations. Click for more.




Leading the charge in study of ADHD drugs

New animal research shows that the drugs used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder do not appear to have long-term effects on the brain, a team of Wake Forest Baptist researchers shows. Click for more.




Studying head injuries in young football players

With increasing fears of concussions in sports, the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences (SBES) announces plans for a pioneering study–Kinematics of Impact Data Set (KIDS)–that will track the exposure of head impact on young football players. Click for more.




Nurse Anesthesia Program Earns Distinction

The Nurse Anesthesia program becomes the first in the United States and second in the world to be accredited by the International Federation of Nurse Anesthetists. Click for more.




Advancements in stroke knowledge

Cheryl Bushnell, MD, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, is author of a new scientific statement offering guidelines to help prevent stroke in women. Click for more.


An Unusual Finding Regarding High Blood Pressure

A new study led by Carlos J. Rodriguez, MD, associate professor of public health sciences for Wake Forest Baptist, shows for the first time that reducing systolic blood pressure below 120 does not appear to provide additional benefit for patients, as long believed in the medical community. Click for more



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Last Updated: 09-10-2014
Wake Forest Baptist Ranked among Nation’s ‘Best Hospitals’  26 Years in a Row by U.S. News & World ReportComprehensive Cancer Centers National Designation is Renewed2017-2018 Best DoctorsNursing Magnet StatusJoint Commission Report

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