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History of the Pathology Department

The University of Mississippi School of Medicine was established on the Oxford, Miss., campus in 1903 as a two-year program. Students completed their third and fourth years of study at various other American medical schools. A School of Nursing was added in 1948. The Mississippi Legislature passed legislation in the early 1950's to construct the University of Mississippi Medical Center, including a four-year School of Medicine, teaching hospital and the School of Nursing. The faculty, facilities and students at Oxford were transferred to the Jackson campus, which opened in 1955.

Distinguished American physicians who have served as professors of pathology at UMMC since its inception in 1903 include such notable figures as Dr. Paul R. Cannon, who later served with distinction as chairman of the Department of Pathology at the University of Chicago; the renowned virologist Dr. Ernest W. Goodpasture, late chairman of the Department of Pathology and dean of the School of Medicine at Vanderbilt University; and Dr. James R. Dawson Jr., former chairman of the Department of Pathology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and Dr. James Bell Bullitt, late chair of Pathology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Dr. Billy S. Guyton, an early dean of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, served as professor of pathology from 1915-20.

Dr. James Bell Bullitt, a graduate of Washington and Lee and the University of Virginia Medical School, was named the first professor of pathology by Dean Waller S. Leathers, MD, in 1903. Dr William V. Hare headed the Department of Pathology at Oxford in the late 1940's and early 1950's and from 1955-59 in Jackson. Originally, the Department of Pathology consisted of surgical pathology, cytopathology, autopsy pathology and immunopathology divisions. The Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, for Clinical Pathology, was a separate administrative unit, with its own chairperson, Dr Warren Bell. In 1988, the two departments merged into one unit, the Department of Pathology.

Dr. Hare was succeeded in 1959 by Joel G. Brunson, MD, of the University of Minnesota. Dr. Brunson maintained an excellent pathology residency training program in which he was assisted by his erstwhile chief at Minnesota, Dr. James R. Dawson. Dr. Dawson served as a professor of Pathology at the University Medical Center from 1970-76. Dr. Brunson attracted the distinguished American pathologist and virologist, Dr. Ernest W. Goodpasture to joint his faculty. Although Dr. Goodpasture served for a relatively brief period, his influence on the department's research and teaching programs has been long lasting. The department's highest academic award for M-2 students is named in his honor.

Dr. Catherine Goetz succeeded Dr. Brunson as interim chair in 1977 until Dr. Robert M. O'Neal, former chairman of Pathology at Baylor and the University of Oklahoma Medical Schools was named chairman in 1978. Dr. O'Neal expanded the service and residency programs in anatomic pathology for the next eight years. In 1987, Dr. O'Neal was succeeded by Dr. Warren Johnson, first Pathology chair at St. Jude, Memphis, who served as interim chairman until the arrival of Dr. Sherman Bloom of George Washington University in 1988. Dr. Bloom successfully steered the department into the computer age and placed the service offerings on a firm fiscal basis. It was during his tenure that the number of faculty and size of the department increased substantially with the incorporation of the clinical laboratories into the department.

Dr. Bloom retired in 1999 and was succeeded by Dr. Michael Hughson, who had joined the faculty as professor and vice chairman in 1997. Dr. Steven Bigler succeeded Dr. Hughson in 2004 and served through 2011. Dr Janice Lage, professor and chair of Pathology at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, was selected as chair of this department in 2012.