Fall 2009
40 Years of Learning, Healing and Discovering

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

A Brief Timeline of the History of the University of Nevada School of Medicine

Early 1960s

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, whose mission was to review and recommend sites in western states for higher education institutions, designated the University of Nevada in Reno as the most likely facility that could support a new medical school.

George T. Smith, M.D.


George T. Smith, M.D. appointed to conduct a study on the feasibility of establishing a medical school in Nevada.


Board of Regents approve feasibility study and it is adopted by the State Legislature.

Governor Paul Laxalt

March 1969

Governor Paul Laxalt signs Assembly Bill 130 into law to establish a two-year medical school. Smith appointed the school’s first dean.

Original site of the University of Nevada School of Medicine

September 1971

The School of Medical Sciences opens with nine full-time, five part-time faculty, and numerous volunteer faculty. The charter class has 32 students, including a woman. Teaching affiliations established at hospitals in Las Vegas, Reno, Henderson, Elko and Carson City.

Fred M. Anderson Building

Spring 1972

First building on a permanent campus completed, named for Fred M. Anderson, M.D.

Spring 1973

The charter class completes its basic sciences, after taking the Part I examination of the National Board of Medical Examiners.


The school initiates an accredited continuing medical education program, one of only two such programs in the U.S. to encompass an entire state.

April 1977

The Nevada Legislature passes Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 18, approving the conversion of the school to a four-year, medical degree-granting institution.

June 1977

The second building on the Reno campus completed and named after H. Edward Manville, one of the school’s major supporters.

Thomas J. Scully, M.D.

October 1977

Thomas J. Scully, M.D. appointed dean and is architect of the School of Medicine’s new four-year program.


The Office of Rural Health is created.

February 1979

The school procures office and clinic space in Las Vegas.

October 1979

Ernest Mazzaferri, M.D. takes over as interim dean of the School of Medicine.

May 1980

The first class of 36 students of the four-year program graduate. The school’s first residency program, in OB/GYN, is created.

Robert N. Daugherty, Jr. M.D., Ph.D. and wife

December 1980

Robert N. Daugherty, Jr., M.D., Ph.D. becomes dean of the medical school.

Savitt Medical Library

August 1982

Savitt Medical Library named after Sol and Ella Savitt, longtime supporters of the medical school and its library.


Residency programs in general surgery and internal medicine (Reno) established.

May 1986

Seven-year accreditation for the school is granted, the longest term a medical school can be awarded.


Howard Health Building, named for businessman and major benefactor of the school, Claude I. Howard, opens in Las Vegas.


Genetics program created in Las Vegas. Family medicine residencies formed in Las Vegas and Reno.

Joseph Hume, Ph.D.


Joseph Hume, Ph.D., discovers new chloride channels in the heart and is published in the journal Science. The internal medicine residency program created in Las Vegas.


Trudy Larson, M.D. and Steve Zell, M.D. open an early intervention clinic for patients with HIV and AIDS to serve communities in northern Nevada.

Student Health Center in Reno, Nevada


Claude I. Howard and Nell J. Redfield Speech Pathology and Audiology Buildings and Student Health Center completed.


School selected for the Robert Wood Johnson generalist initiative award. The $750,000 grant helps modify the curriculum to a primary care focus and provide students with an ambulatory setting experience.


A statewide practice plan, University Health System, created to help integrate the school’s patient care clinics.

School awarded $8.5 million by the National Institutes of Health to study breast cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. Thomas Kozel, Ph.D. receives MERIT award from the NIH.


Northern Nevada HIV Outpatient Program, Education and Services (HOPES) Clinic created. Pediatrics residency program established.

Nevada State Health Laboratory in Reno

May 1997

The Nevada State Health Laboratory transferred to the medical school by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services State Health Division.


Joseph Hume, Ph.D. receives MERIT award.

July 1998

Patient Care Center opens in Las Vegas.

Student Outreach Clinic in Reno


Students establish Student Outreach Clinic to provide medical care for indigent patients. The school’s trauma unit at University Medical Center in Las Vegas designated Level I status.
Psychiatry residency established in Reno.

November 1999

Robert H. Miller, M.D. becomes dean.


Stephen McFarlane, Ph.D., takes over as dean two weeks before the school’s accreditation visit.

Pennington Medical Education Building in Reno

May 2002

The Pennington Medical Education Building opens, named for philanthropists William and Myriam Pennington.

July 2002

Psychiatry residency created in Las Vegas.

Summer 2003

Family medicine clinic opens and plastic surgery residency program created in Las Vegas.


John McDonald, M.D., Ph.D. appointed dean. The surgery critical care fellowship program established in Las Vegas.

July 2005

Child psychiatry fellowship established in Reno.

July 2006

Emergency medicine and sports medicine residency programs in Las Vegas and geriatrics fellowship program in Reno established.

May 2008

Surgery department creates the first acute care surgery fellowship program in the U.S., spearheaded by John Fildes, M.D.

July 2008

Ole Thienhaus, M.D. appointed dean. Division of Health Sciences established at the University of Nevada, Reno, with McDonald as vice president. Sports medicine fellowship program established in Reno.

Summer 2009

Announcement on naming gift for the health sciences education building in Reno pending Synapse publication time. Oncology fellowship program established in Las Vegas.