Our History

University Hospital, Minneapolis Campus Circa 1920s

Over 100 Years of U Pediatrics

A lasting difference for children in Minnesota and around the world

Nearly 70% of all physicians practicing in Minnesota - and the vast majority of pediatricians and pediatric specialists in our region - trained at the University of Minnesota. 

For the last century, the exploration of pioneering ideas at the University of Minnesota's Department of Pediatrics has launched medical firsts that have made a lasting difference for children in Minnesota and around the world. 

The University created the Department of Pediatrics in 1915, when the specialty outgrew its status as a division in the Department of Internal Medicine. Julius P. Sedgwick, MD, was tapped to lead the new department, which at the time was made up of two other professors and a half-dozen instructors and assistants.  

Today the University's Department of Pediatrics is acclaimed for its work in such areas as childhood cancer, stem cell therapies, global health, transplantation, type 1 diabetes, newborn care, and childhood health conditions that lead to chronic diseases in adults. 

Here are some of the many medical milestones along the way:

1911: The 108-bed Elliot Memorial Hospital opens, providing health care for adults and, eventually, children. 

1915: The Department of Pediatrics is founded, and Julius P. Sedgewick, MD is named its first chair. 

1929: The Eustis wing of the University Hospital opens, providing 50 beds for children and an expanded outpatient pediatric clinic. 

1952: The world's first successful open heart surgery using hypothermia (cooling of the body) is performed at the University of Minnesota. 

Historical pediatric clinic care
Robert Good, M.D., Ph.D.

1954: The first pediatric open-heart surgery using cross-circulation is performed at UMN, led by C. Walton Lillehei, MD, PhD, and Richard Varco, MD, PhD. 

1968: Pediatric Immunologist Robert Good, MD, PhD, (left) performs the world's first successful bone marrow transplant. The patient was a child. 

1975: A team of U physicians successfully performs related-donor kidney transplant in children as young as 1 year old. 

1975: The U's John Kersey, MD, Leads the first successful pediatric bone marrow transplant for treating hypothermia. 

1982: University experts pioneer neonatal pediatric hemodialysis and become the first in the country to perform hemodialysis in an infant. 

1986: The department establishes the first international adoption clinic and is first to publish protocol for developmental testing in international adoptees. 

1988: A vibrating, chest-clearing vest (right) is invented by the U's Warren Warwick, MD, is licensed and transforms care for children with cystic fibrosis, and the "Minnesota Model" of care received national recognition. 

1998: U researchers develop a vaccine for Lyme disease.

Vibrating, chest-clearing vest worn by a young child
Jakub Tolar, M.D., Ph.D.

2000: John E. Wagner, MD, performs the world's first blood and marrow transplant using genetic testing and an embryo to find a suitable cord blood donor. 

2007: Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD, (left) and his research team discover that transplanted bone marrow cells can correct a protein deficiency in a completely different organ, the skin. 

2008: The U performs the first bone marrow transplant to treat the devastating skin disease recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. 

2010: U scientists prove for the first time that a genetic disorder can be corrected in human cells using TALEN gene-editing technology. 

2011: A state-of-the-art, eco friendly children's hospital opens on the U's Riverside Campus in Minneapolis. 

2013: John E. Wagner, MD, and Michael Verneris, MD, perform the world's first blood and marrow transplant with the intention of curing a child who has both leukemia and HIV. 

2014: The hospital (right) is named the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital in honor of the Minnesota Masonic Charities' long standing support of the U. A new $25 million gift to enhance the patient experience and advance pediatric research brings the Mason's total support to more than $125 million. 

University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital