Medical research in Puerto Rico had its beginning with the First Anemia Commission which was established by the Insular Government in 19O4 as a result of the discovery by Bailey K. Ashford that hookworm infestation was the principal causative of the anemia present in this island. In 1912 the Institute of Tropical Medicine was created to further the research initiated by the Anemia Commissions, an in 1926 new legislation expanded the Institute of Tropical Medicine into the School of Tropical Medicine of the University of Puerto Rico which was operated under the sponsorship of Columbia University.
Courses were initiated at the School of Tropical Medicine in 1927 for students interested in tropical medicine and nutrition. This was the same year the courses for the degree of Master of Arts in Spanish Studies were begun at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras. Although most of the students continued their graduate work at Columbia University the University of Puerto Rico gave two degrees of Master of Arts in May, 193O for work done at the School of Tropical Medicine.
In 1948, by mutual consent, the agreement between the University of Puerto Rico and Columbia University was terminated, and in May of the following year, 1949, the creation of the School of Medicine of the University of Puerto Rico was authorized by an act of the Legislature of Puerto Rico. The School of Medicine, which evolved from the former School of Tropical Medicine, admitted its first class in August 195O. In 1956 by joint resolution of the Legislature of Puerto Rico, the School of Dentistry was established to operate in conjunction with the Medical School and accepted its first class in August 1957. In 196O the Council of Higher Education of the University of Puerto Rico approved the graduate programs of the Departments of Anatomy & Neurobiology, Biochemistry and Nutrition, Medical Zoology, Microbiology, and Physiology. In August of the same year the Chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico appointed an Executive Graduate Committee with responsibility to administer Graduate Studies in the Basic Sciences. The Graduate Program of Histopathology in the Dental School was approved by the Council of Higher Education in October 1962. Graduate programs in Pharmacology (Toxicology) and Pathology were approved by the Council in 1964 and 1965, respectively.
The present Medical Sciences Campus (MSC), which encompasses the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Health Related Professions, was created as a result of the 1966 reform of the organization of the University of Puerto Rico. Within the Medical Sciences Campus the Graduate Programs were structured under the Chancellor’s office.
In 1976 the Medical Sciences Campus underwent an internal re-organization and the Graduated Division became academically and administratively a part of the School of Medicine, under the Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences.
The first degree of Master of Science was granted by the Graduate Division in June 1963, and the first degree of Doctor of Philosophy in May, 1967. A total of 88 master’s degrees and 31 doctoral degrees have been conferred so far.
In recent years opportunities for graduate studies in the Medical Sciences Campus have been greatly, strengthened both in quality and scope as the result of the concerted effort of faculty and administration to improve research, research-related activities, and the research infrastructure within the Campus.
Some of the accomplishments already achieved are the increase in the number of research-oriented faculty members, the building of new research facilities (e.g., the 6th floor addition to the Medical Sciences Building, the remodeling of the Animal House facilities in the 10th floor of the same building); the creation of the Division of Comparative Medicine; the organization of scientific forums like Research Week and the Student’s Research Congress, the publication of the Puerto Rico Health Sciences Journal; the incorporation of the Campus to the PROPHET research computer network; the awarding of a MBRS grant to the Medical Sciences Campus by the National Institutes of Health; and the establishment research assistantships for the support of graduate students.