Explore Philadelphia’s Medical and Science History

Philadelphia, host of the ATS 2013 International Conference, is the birthplace of American medicine. The “City of Brotherly Love” lays claim to the nation’s first hospital, children’s hospital, medical school, pharmaceutical college, medical library, and original advancements that have shaped modern medicine and patient care. Today, the Greater Philadelphia Region is considered a hotbed for the medical, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industry.

The following sites are just a few examples of how ATS 2013 attendees might enrich their experiences during a break from learning about the latest and most significant developments in clinical practice and in clinical, basic, and translational research.

College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Mütter Museum, Historical Library

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia is the country’s first professional medical organization. And since its founding in 1787, it has showcased medicine as both science and art. Its Mütter Museum serves as a repository of anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments in a 19th century cabinet museum setting. Its medical library counts more than 400 books printed before 1500 and a large collection of manuscripts and 19th and 20th century medical journals. Visiting information: collegeofphysicians.org.

Pennsylvania Hospital and Historic Medical Library

The nation’s first hospital, Pennsylvania Hospital, was established in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond to care for the “sick-poor and insane of Philadelphia.” The fathers of American psychiatry and surgery-Drs. Benjamin Rush and Philip Syng Physick-both served on its staff. The centerpiece of the hospital’s valuable art collection is Christ Healing the Sick in the Temple, a dramatic 160-square-foot work by Benjamin West. Its medical library, founded in 1762-also the nation’s first-would later be designated by the American Medical Association as the most important of the time. Visiting information: uphs.upenn.edu/paharc/collections.

University of the Sciences (Philadelphia College of Pharmacy)

In 1821, 68 apothecaries established the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy-now the University of Sciences-to improve scientific standards and to train more competent apprentices and students. It was the first Pharmacy school in the nation and educated the founders of several pharmaceutical companies, including Eli Lilly and Company (est. 1876). Its Marvin Samson Center for the History of Pharmacy contains more than 10,000 pharmaceutical and medical science objects that date back more than five centuries. The collection includes mortars and pestles, apothecary jars, weights and balances, patent medicines, signs and other rare items. Visiting information: usciences.edu/museum.

Physick House

Visitors can tour the Federal townhouse of the aforementioned “Father of American Surgery,” Dr. Philip Syng Physick, and peruse several works of art and artifacts. These include Thomas Sully’s portrait of Dr. Physick, copies of illustrations by John Syng Dorsey, MD, from his book Elements of Surgery (1815), and a copy of a caricature by political cartoonist Thomas Rowlandson that depicts men studying medicine at the Hunter School, Dr. Physick’s alma mater. Visiting information: philalandmarks.org/phys.aspx.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

The nation’s first pediatric hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, was founded in 1855 by Drs. Francis West Lewis, T. Hewson Bache, and R.A.F. Penrose. It is the site of the first formal medical training for pediatric doctors and a number of breakthroughs in pediatric care. Today the hospital serves more than one million outpatient and inpatient visits a year, and is ranked No. 1 in pulmonology in the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals 2012-13. Visiting information: giving@email.chop.edu and labopenhouse@email.chop.edu.

Perelman School of Medicine

The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the nation’s first medical school, was founded in 1765 in Philadelphia by John Morgan, who later served as the second Surgeon General of the U.S. Army. Alumni include three Nobel Prize winners, the first president of the American Medical Association, the author of the first definitive history of tobacco documenting its dangers, and many other groundbreaking and influential doctors and researchers. The John Morgan building on campus houses some of the city’s most treasured medical artwork, including Thomas Eakins’ the Agnew Clinic (1889). Visiting information: Med.upenn.edu

Barnes Foundation

Albert C. Barnes, MD, who developed Argyrol antiseptic at the turn of the 20th century and established the A.C. Barnes Company in Philadelphia, duly developed an appreciation for art and began to hold educational seminars for his employees. This led to the creation of the Barnes Foundation in 1922. Today, the Barnes collection is divided into two publically accessible locations: the Merion-a 12-acre arboretum, notable for more than 3,000 species of woody plants and trees, the horticulture program, and the Foundation’s archives-and the Philadelphia, which houses a staggering art collection on a 4.5-acre site on the north side of Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the heart of downtown’s cultural corridor. Visiting information: barnesfoundation.org.