About Us

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  • Our History

    The Department of Medicine began in 1955 when the University of Mississippi Medical Center moved from its parent campus in Oxford to the state capitol, Jackson. Dr. Robert Snavely, a widely respected hepatologist, served as professor and as the department's first chairman. He was joined by five other faculty members, which constituted the full-time staff.

    Department of Medicine staff, 1955
    Department of Medicine staff, 1955

    Dr. Snavely's service came at a time of great social upheaval and hardships. In fact, funds were so limited during his tenure, he often had to feed and house faculty recruits at his home. Despite these obstacles, he was able to lay a foundation for emphasizing patient-based clinical education, and research and development.

    Subsequent to Dr. Snavley's service, three other chairmen have led the department. Under the leadership of Dr. Harper Hellems (1965-90), the department enjoyed tremendous growth and established most of its 13 divisions. Dr. John B. O'Connell (1991-96) ushered in a period of dynamic expansion of facilities and faculty, while increasing NIH funding and international reputation. Under the leadership of Dr. Richard deShazo (1998-present), approximately 80 new faculty members have been recruited to the department, and the medicine-pediatrics, geriatrics, and interventional cardiology programs have been initiated.

    The American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) pass-rate has been sustained at over 91% while research and clinical programs have greatly expanded. The department has been named Best Clinical Department by our medical students forĀ 10 out of the last 11 years.

    Dr. Shirley Schlessinger stepped into the role as interim in July 2010. In her short tenure as chair, she has experienced success in recruiting and will add several new faculty members to the department this year. Her goals continue to focus on meeting community needs through our clinical mission arm. Under her leadership, our education program continues to expand. She has also outlined a plan to increase our research funding through the development of the Office of Research and Scholarship.