Our History

From a dedicated and passionate community with pioneer spirit comes an innovative medical school committed to creating the future of health

In the 1960’s, Alberta is bustling with excitement and opportunity for pioneers and innovators. It is also in the midst of a post-war baby boom. All levels of government struggle to deal with the many challenges brought by rapid growth.

In medicine, the Royal Commission on Health Services, also known as the Hall Commission, makes recommendations that revolutionize health services in Canada. Among the recommendations, it calls for the creation of four new medical schools to train more doctors across Canada, including one in southern Alberta. The provincial government approves plans for a medical school in a youthful and emerging University of Calgary in 1966.

A group of dedicated general practitioners bring specialty training in family medicine to Calgary. A three-year residency for certification in General Practice is piloted at the Calgary General Hospital, one of only two specialty of general practice training programs offered in North America at the time.

On January 11, 1967, Dr. William Cochrane, MD, is appointed the faculty’s inaugural Dean. The University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine admits its first students in 1970. Three years later they become its first graduating class.

In 2014, businessman Geoffrey Cumming provides the largest single philanthropic gift in UCalgary’s history to the faculty. His $100 million donation is matched by the Alberta government and the school is renamed the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM).

The CSM continues to be inspired by the pioneers and innovators of our past. We are guided by their vision of a medical school that is an essential part of the province’s advanced education and health-care system, and a leader in improving lives of southern Albertans and beyond.

Our defining moments

  • 1905 – Alberta’s Medical Profession Act passes after the province is established. Roughly 325 physicians work in Alberta
  • 1954 – A group of general practitioners meet in Calgary to discuss founding a Provincial Chapter of the College of General Practice of Canada
  • 1966 – A three-year residency for certification in General Practice is piloted at the Calgary General Hospital
  • 1967 – Dr. William Cochrane is appointed Dean
  • 1970 – UCalgary establishes its Department of Family Medicine and accepts its first class of medical students
  • 1973 – The faculty’s first 32 medical students graduate
  • 1975 – The Health Sciences Centre is built
  • 1982 – Dr. Elizabeth (Betty) MacRae, Canada’s first female neurosurgeon, is appointed clinical assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences
  • 1985 – Dr. John Remmers invents the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, becoming the first to demonstrate that sleep apnea is due to a narrowing of part of the throat
  • 1992 – Dr. Samuel Weiss discovers neural stem cells in the brains of adult mammals, leading to new approaches for brain cell replacement and repair
  • 1995 – Dr. Merril Knudston spearheads the creation of a database called APPROACH for cardiac treatment as well as patient care and outcomes in Alberta
  • 2006 – The Health Research Innovation Centre and the Teaching, Research and Wellness Building are built
  • 2008 – Dr. Garnette Sutherland and his team use neuroArm, an image-guided neurosurgical robot, on a human for the first time in history
  • 2010 – Dr. Mark Heard becomes the first to transplant live cartilage into a patient’s shoulder
  • 2011 – Dr. Paul Kubes and his team make groundbreaking discoveries in visualizing the mammalian immune system, providing insights to better understand and treat immune-system diseases like sepsis, cancer and diabetes. Kubes is named Canada's Health Researcher of the Year by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for the ‘exceptional impact’ of this work.
  • 2012 – A  study led by Dr. Francois Bernier identifies the gene responsible for Nager syndrome, a condition causing deformation and deafness in children
  • 2012 – Dr. Steven Boyd demonstrates how high-resolution computed tomography scanners can identify bone micro-architecture, density and strength information, used to help predict bone and joint disorders such as osteoporosis
  • 2013 – Dr. Thomas Louie discovers that fecal transplant pills are effective in treating C difficile
  • 2014 – The faculty is named the Cumming School of Medicine in honour of UCalgary alumnus Geoffrey Cumming, who provides the largest single philanthropic gift in UCalgary’s history
  • 2015 – A major stoke trial demonstrates how endovascular treatment (ET) can significantly improve patient outcomes after an acute ischemic stroke, dramatically reducing disability and death. The ESCAPE study results are published in the New England Journal of Medicine
  • 2017—A Canadian clinical trial shows that minocycline, a common acne medication, can slow the progress of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) in people who have recently experienced their first symptoms.
  • 2017 – The International Microbiome Centre opens, designed to help with discoveries in disease prevention, obesity prevention, antibiotic resistance, food production, alternative energy sources and other areas
  • 2017 – The school marks its golden anniversary, celebrating 50 years since it opened

Our Deans

Dean Bill Cochrane

Dean William A. Cochrane, MD | 1967-1973

Dean Lionel McLeod

Dean Lionel E. McLeod, MD | 1973-1981

Dean Mo Watanabe

Dean Mamoru Watanabe, MD | 1981-1992

Dean Eldon Smith

Dean Eldon R. Smith, MD | 1992-1997

Dean Grant Gall

Dean D. Grant Gall, MD | 1997-2007

Dean Tom Feasby

Dean Thomas E. Feasby, MD | 2007-2012

Dean Jon Meddings

Dean Jon Meddings, MD | 2012-Present