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The UMass Medical School campus in Worcester, Mass., in 2020
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An Introduction to UMass Chan Medical School

Welcome to UMass Chan Medical School, the commonwealth’s first and only public academic health sciences center

Our mission is to advance the health and wellness of our diverse communities throughout Massachusetts and across the world by leading and innovating in education, research, health care delivery and public service.

  • On Sept. 7, 2021, a $175 million donation from The Morningside Foundation to the Medical School was announced. The transformative gift, which is unrestricted, will allow the Medical School to recruit renowned and innovative faculty, conduct more breakthrough biomedical research, offer financial support to highly qualified and diverse students; and be ever more expansive in fulfilling our public service mission. In recognition of the historic gift and of the deep commitment to education, research and health care by the Chan family of investors, entrepreneurs and philanthropists, UMass Medical School was renamed the UMass Chan Medical School. Its three graduate schools were renamed: the T.H. Chan School of Medicine; the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing; and the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. UMass Chan was founded in 1962 to provide affordable, high-quality medical education to state residents and to increase the number of primary care physicians practicing in underserved areas of the state.
  • It is consistently ranked by U.S.News & World Report as one of the leading medical schools in the nation for primary care education.
  • The research enterprise received approximately $421 million in federal and private research grants and contracts in fiscal year 2021.
  • The institution is committed to enhancing health and science education, ensuring community health, building a diverse workforce and enriching lives through extensive community outreach.
  • Located in Worcester, Massachusetts, UMass Chan Medical School is one of five University of Massachusetts campuses.

The three UMass Chan graduate schools are the T.H. Chan School of Medicine, the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing.

  • The T.H. Chan School of Medicine is committed to training in the full range of medical disciplines, with an emphasis on practice in the primary care specialties, in the public sector and in underserved areas of Massachusetts.
  • The Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences students receive a broad background in the basic medical sciences and are trained in their selected specialty area in preparation for research with direct relevance to human disease.
  • The Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing offers master’s, post-master’s and doctoral degrees, providing high quality education to prepare registered professional and advanced practice nurses within nurse practitioner and nurse educator specialties and for faculty, research and other nursing leadership positions.

UMass Chan is a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research.

  • In 2006 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to UMass Chan professor Craig C. Mello, PhD, and his colleague Andrew Fire, PhD, of Stanford University, for their discoveries related to RNA interference (RNAi), a cellular process that offers astounding potential for understanding and, ultimately treating, human disease.
  • Our research programs are central to the Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative, with major funding from the $1 billion Massachusetts Life Sciences Bill signed into law in 2008.
  • Our researchers have made pivotal advances in HIV, cancer, diabetes, infectious disease, and in understanding the molecular basis of disease.
  • Programs and centers include the RNA Therapeutics Institute, the Gene Therapy Center, Program in Gene Function and Expression, Systems Biology and Neurotherapeutics.

We invite you to learn more about why UMass Chan Medical School is a great place to work and study.

A brief history of UMass Chan Medical School: 

A state-supported public medical school for Massachusetts was established by the commonwealth in July of 1962; the founding dean, Lamar Soutter, was appointed in December of 1963 and began the execution of a vision for an extraordinary medical school. “I think that if you're starting a medical school from scratch,” he said at the time, “you can say alright, let's get this science of medicine very firmly rooted in the students' minds—but then let's take them back to the bedside and make them much better practitioners and much more interested in taking care of human beings even though they are making full use of laboratory procedures and scientific advances.” 

Although the location in Worcester as a campus of the University of Massachusetts wasn’t selected until 1965, preliminary accreditation and the recruitment of core faculty during the construction process meant that the first class of 16 students entered in the fall of 1970, beginning their studies in a former warehouse at the corner of Lake Avenue and Belmont Street (a building still used today by UMass Chan Medical School). By the time the first class graduated in 1974, the new medical science building was in use, followed by the teaching hospital, which opened in 1976. The growth of the school and its clinical system coincided neatly with support for basic science research and while the school remained true to its mission of training primary care physicians, by 1979 it had established a PhD program in the biomedical sciences, which became a school in its own right, followed by the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing, which opened in 1986. 

A period of expansion began in 1990 with the appointment of Aaron Lazare, MD, as dean and, subsequently, chancellor, who would go on to become one of the longest-serving leaders of a medical school in the United States by the time he stepped down in 2007. With the acquisition of the former Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research and the Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories and the spinoff of hospital operations into a new clinical system, the campus entered a period of unprecedented growth. A new research building opened in 2001 and the original medical school and hospital buildings were extensively renovated and expanded to include new meeting, educational, emergency and surgical spaces. Research funding grew for a time at a rate faster than any other academic health sciences center in the country, fueled by recruitment of basic science faculty drawn to the institution's prominence in several fields, including gene function and expression, gene development, biochemistry, and molecular medicine. In 2006, UMass Chan professor Craig C. Mello, PhD, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, shared with Stanford researcher Andrew Fire, PhD, for their discovery of the mechanism of gene silencing by double-stranded RNA, which they termed ‘RNA interference.’ 

The Nobel Prize drew attention and support to UMass Chan Medical School throughout the commonwealth; the University of Massachusetts created a Life Sciences Task Force that proposed a series of strategic investments in biomedical sciences education, research and infrastructure across the five campuses; many of these recommendations were mirrored in the commonwealth’s own Life Sciences Initiative, a ten-year, billion-dollar plan for investment. The Life Sciences Task Force was chaired by Michael F. Collins, MD, at the time interim chancellor at UMass Chan Medical School and senior vice president for the health sciences at the University. Along with Terence R. Flotte, MD, a prominent figure in the field of gene therapy, who became the eighth dean of the T.H. Chan School of Medicine in 2007, Collins has overseen the latest phase in campus development and investment, including the expansion of the medical school class size to its current cohort of 125; investment in educational technology and infrastructure, and expansion in clinical and translational science, which began with the establishment of a PhD program in Clinical and Population Health in 2005; the creation of the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences in 2009; and the receipt of an NIH Clinical and Translational Award in 2010. Two major facilities investments on the UMass Chan Medical School campus have laid the groundwork for the next generation of life sciences education and research: the 278,000 square-foot Ambulatory Care Center, home to Centers of Excellence in Diabetes, Cardiovascular Medicine, Orthopedics and Cancer, which opened in 2010; and the 500,000 square foot Albert Sherman Center,  which opened in 2013 and houses state of the art facilities for medical education, including homes for the learning communities; the standardized patient program; dedicated seminar and conference space; and six floors of wet and dry laboratory space for new research initiatives in population health, RNA biology, gene therapy and neurodegenerative disease.

In September 2021, Chancellor Collins announced a history-making gift of $175 million from The Morningside Foundation to the Medical School. Calling the gift a “powerful statement about the stature—and the potential—of our medical school,” Collins said the confidence it conveys about the Medical School is breathtaking, “permitting us to recruit renowned and innovative faculty, conduct more breakthrough biomedical research, offer financial support to highly qualified and diverse students; and be ever more expansive in fulfilling our public service mission.” The Morningside Foundation said in a statement that, “The Morningside Foundation and the Chan family are proud to honor their patriarch and matriarch’s legacy and their deep commitment to the advancement of health and education. There is a powerful alchemy and very special culture at UMass Medical School in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

UMass Chan Medical School milestones

1962: Legislation establishes University of Massachusetts Medical School
1970: First medical students begin classes in Shaw Building
1974: First class graduates 16 MDs
1979: PhD program begins
1986: Graduate School of Nursing opens
1986: PhD program becomes Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
1994: Graduate School of Nursing initiates PhD program
1998: UMass Clinical System and Memorial Health Care merge to form UMass Memorial Health Care
2001: Lazare Research Building opens
2002: Campus Modernization begins on the University Campus
2004: Graduate Entry Pathway Program established at the Graduate School of Nursing
2005: PhD Program in Clinical & Population Health Research established at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
2005: Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories opens new manufacturing and filling facility in Mattapan
2006: Craig Mello, PhD, Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, is awarded the Medical School's first Nobel Prize. Dr. Mello shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Andrew Fire, PhD, of Stanford University, for their discoveries related to RNA interference.
2007: Michael F. Collins, MD, is named chancellor and Terence R. Flotte, MD, is named dean of the School of Medicine. 
2009: Groundbreaking for the Albert Sherman Center, a 500,000-square-foot research and education facility
2010: Ambulatory Care Center opens
2013: Albert Sherman Center opens
2019: Construction of the new VA building begins
2020: Construction of the new education and research building begins
2021: With a transformational gift from The Morningside Foundation, UMass Medical School is renamed UMass Chan Medical School