Our History

Our History


  • May 26, 1881 – Agreement to establish a medical school at Western University is signed.   15 students enrolled in the first class.
  • October 1, 1882 – The first medical lecture was held in a cottage on St. James Street.
  • 1883 – Dr. William J. Roche became the first graduate.
  • 1888 – The London Medical College was erected at York and Waterloo Streets at a cost of $9,500.


  • 1917 – Western mobilized the No. 10 Canadian Stationery Hospital – a 400-bed mobile hospital serving in England and France during WWI
  • 1919 – Dr. Kathleen Braithwaite Sanborn became the first female medical student. She graduated in 1924.
  • 1920 – Dr. Frederick Banting was appointed to the faculty. While at Western, Banting conceived the idea that led to the discovery of insulin.
  • 1921 – A new building on Ottaway Ave. (South Street) opened. It served the Faculty for 44 years.


  • 1927 – Dr. F.W. Luney pioneered human blood transfusions at St. Joseph's Hospital.
  • 1942 – Western again established the No. 10 Canadian General Hospital, caring for 21,000 patients in Normandy and Belgium during World War II.
  • 1942-45 – During the war, extensive research on aviation medicine took place at Western.


  • 1949 – Dr. Murray L. Barr discovered the sex-chromatin, now known as the Barr body, launching the field of genetics.
  • 1949 – first PhD graduate from the School and from Western, Dr. Kenneth Carroll
  • 1951 – first female PhD graduate, Dr. Carol Buck.
  • 1951 – World's first delivery of cancer radiation therapy to patients using 'cobalt bomb', or cobalt 60 teletherapy machine.
  • 1957 – Dr. Robert Noble and Dr. Charles Beer discover vincaleukoblastine, the first of a series of chemotherapy drugs used in cancer care.
  • 1958 – Dr. Charles Drake pioneers a surgical procedure to correct cerebral aneurysms.
  • 1964 – The Ontario government and the University officially approved a Faculty of Dentistry for Western. The first class enrolled in 1966.
  • 1965 – The Faculty of Medicine moved to the new Medical Sciences Building on campus.


  • 1968 – The Dental Sciences Building officially opened.
  • 1970 – First class graduates from the School of Dentistry.
  • 1972 – University Hospital was built by the London Health Association.
  • 1978 – Dr. Henry Barnett leads the Canadian study that demonstrated aspirin could prevent stroke, opening the door to the use of aspirin to prevent heart disease.


  • 1979 – Dr. Calvin Stiller leads a patient study on the benefits and side effects of the new anti-rejection drug, cyclosporine.
  • 1981 – Dr. Fred Possmayer discovers a method of extracting and purifying natural surfactant from a cow's lung to help premature infants breathe, saving millions of infants worldwide.
  • 1982 – Canada's first human brain MRI is conducted in London. Throughout the 80s and 90s advances are pioneered across London in neuroscience, cardiovascular, orthopaedic and neonatal MRI.
  • 1983 – First heart-lung transplant in Canada is done in London.
  • 1986 – Opening of Robarts Research Institute.
  • 1986 – Opening of the Centre for Studies in Family Medicine, now a leading international centre for research in family practice.
  • 1987 – World's first pacemaker cardioverter defibrillator (PCD) is implanted at University Hospital.
  • 1988 – Multi-Organ Transplant Program at University Hospital performs the first successful combined liver and bowel transplant in the world.


  • 1990 – First multi-organ transplant (liver, small bowel, stomach, and pancreas) in Canada is done at University Hospital.
  • 1990 – First measure of neurotransmitter concentration in schizophrenia by Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy at St. Joseph’s.
  • 1991 – World's first use of Ytterbium-169 isotope for interstitial radiation therapy of cancer.
  • 1991 –Dr. David Bailey discovers that taking grapefruit juice with medication causes inhibition of drug metabolism in humans, the first discovery of a food producing this effect.
  • 1994 – Opening of Siebens-Drake Medical Research Institute
  • 1995 – University Hospital and Victoria Hospital merge as the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).
  • 1996 – The first 4-Tesla MRI system in Canada is installed at Robarts Research Institute.
  • 1997 – London researchers are among the first to develop 3D-computed rotational angiography used to see blood vessels in the brain, including aneurysms.
  • 1997 – The Faculties of Medicine and Dentistry merged to form the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.
  • 1997 – Western medical students and residents begin training in rural Southwestern Ontario through the Southwestern Ontario Rural Medicine unit.
  • 1997 – A 5-month old infant receives a liver, bowel, stomach and pancreas transplant at LHSC, becoming the world's youngest recipient of multi-organ transplant.
  • 1999 – World's first closed-chest robotic-assisted beating heart coronary artery bypass performed at LHSC.
  • 1999 – First neonatal brain imaging in the world performed using a 3-Tesla MRI.


  • 2000 – The first adult-to-adult living liver transplant in Canada is done at LHSC.
  • 2000 – First use of functional MRI (fMRI) in the world to show brain timing done at Robarts Research Institute.
  • 2001 – World first robotic-assisted and mentored surgery using videoconferencing technology at LHSC.
  • 2002 – Creation of the Southwestern Ontario Medical Education Network formalizing medical training in Windsor and the region
  • 2002 – Canada's first PET/CT scanner is opened at LHSC, providing researchers with a powerful tool for detecting the spread of cancer.
  • 2004 – Naming of the School in honour of a $26-million gift from Seymour Schulich.
  • 2004 – Dr. David Spence, professor at Western University, pioneers a technique using ultrasound to measure plaque in arteries.
  • 2005 – Opening of the Dr. Donald Rix Clinical Skills Learning Building
  • 2007 – A landmark study by Robarts Research Institute and the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic shows the common arthroscopic surgery of the knee is ineffective for patients with osteoarthritis.
  • 2008 – Opening of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry – Windsor Program.
  • 2008- Dr. Brian Feagan demonstrates a safer and more effective treatment for Crohn's disease.
  • 2008 – First 7T MRI system in Canada arrives at Robarts Research Institute.
  • 2008 – Paula Foster of the Robarts Research Institute is the first in the world to demonstrate that single cells can be detected by MRI.
  • 2009 – Robarts Research Institute is the first in the world to show that MRI can be used to track the development of metastases from individual cancer cells.
  • 2009 –World's first virtual-reality based simulators established for training in otoscopy and myringotomy, common treatments for ear disease and infections


  • 2010 – Dr. Gideon Koren and Dr. Stan VanUum's study of cortisol levels in hair proves the link between stress and heart attack.
  • 2010 – Dr. Adrian Owen is recruited from Cambridge University, U.K., as the first Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging
  • 2010 – Dr. Stephen Lomber proves that the brain re-wires itself to heighten senses when one sense is lost.
  • 2010 – Biological link between stress, anxiety and depression discovered by Robarts Scientist Dr. Stephen Feruson
  • 2010 - Using gene sequencing, Dr. Robert Hegele identifies the genetic variations leading to hypertriglyceridemia and contributes to a consortium that identifies the genes that control HDL, LDL and triglycerides
  • 2010 - Dr. James White develops a new 3-D imaging technique to identify scar tissue in the heart
  • 2010 - Dr. David Spence shows high dose vitamin B therapy should not be used for those with diabetes and kidney damage. It worsened kidney function and increased the risk of heart attacks and stroke
  • 2011 - Dr. Geoffrey Pickering discovers "fibroblast growth factor 9" helps the body regenerate blood vessels after heart attack or stroke.