Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center was not built overnight and its reputation did not spring forth overnight, but by the time the medical center celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1953, the New York Times called it “one of the nation’s greatest scientific and humanitarian institutions.” The first 75 years have been punctuated with achievements in the lab, at the bedside, and in the classroom. Some achievements fill the pages of this issue.
A small selection of others:

development of Dilantin, the first drug designed to prevent epileptic seizures (1936-39)
identification of streptococcus as the cause of rheumatic fever (1931)
identification of the life-saving effects of salt to treat Addison’s disease (1932)
first corneal transplant in the United States (1933)
development of the first blood test for prostate cancer using acid phosphatase, the first “tumor marker” that could be measured in the blood (1936)
an early leader in the science of immunochemistry (1930s)
first effective treatment for one form of meningitis (1938)
development of the cephalin flocculation test for intrinsic liver disease, which saved patients from unnecessary surgery (1938-39
first successful catheterization of the human heart in a patient (1940)
demonstration of the diagnostic importance of change in spinal fluid gamma globulin (1940s)
first successful use of radioactive isotopes to treat thyroid cancer (1941)
creation of the nation’s first bone bank (1945)
discovery of rheumatoid factor, helping to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis (1948)
first carotid artery endarterectomy, a surgical procedure to prevent strokes (1950s)
development of the first shoulder joint replacement (1952)
nation’s oldest continuous program in nurse midwifery (1955)
first use of amniocentesis in the United States (1959)
discovery of hormonal mechanism that causes hypertension (1960)
first evidence suggesting an autoimmune basis for myasthenia gravis (1960)
first medical use of the laser beam when CPMC physicians trained a laser beam on a tumor inside the eye of a male patient and in one thousandth of a second destroyed the growth that threatened his eye (1961)
first surgery in utero (1964)
first studies and use of L-dopa therapy to treat Parkinson’s disease (1965)
development of system to preserve corneas until they are transplanted (1966)
use of embolization to treat malformations of blood vessels in the brain by injecting substances to occlude them, the first step toward development of the field of interventional radiology (1968)
first clinical description of lassa fever (1970)
first use of botulinum toxin to prevent involuntary movement in patients (1970s)
development of the intra-aortic balloon pump for cadiovascular surgery (1970s)
first successful transfer of foreign genes into animal cells, paving the way for new pharmaceuticals (1976)
foundation for systematic screening for Down’s syndrome (1979)
opening of New York City's first in vitro fertilization program (1983)
development of pulsed radiotherapy (1990s)
isolation of the first known odor receptors, a large family of genes in the nose that enable humans to distinguish thousands of odors (1991)
leadership of an international team of researchers that isolated the gene for Huntington’s disease (1993)
first human retinal cell transplants (1994)
discovery of the genetic mutation responsible for Wilson’s disease (1994)
discovery of a genetic link for partial epilepsy (1995)
development of a successful drug, Xalatan, to treat glaucoma (1996)
identification of a new tumor suppressor gene, P-TEN, involved in a large percentage of brain, breast, and prostate cancers (1997)
use of X-ray crystallography to show the 3-D structure of the HIV-1 protein that makes first contact with human cells (1998)
discovery of the first human gene associated with hair loss (1998)
first robotically assisted atrial septal defect repair in the United States (2001), paving the way for the first robotic lung lobectomy (2002)


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