In 1902, Wake Forest established a tradition of educating caring, highly skilled physician leaders. Over time, the school expanded and grew in scope and reputation.
Upon his unexpected death in 1935, Bowman Gray Sr. left part of his fortune to be used for a “charitable endeavor” to help the people of Winston-Salem and the surrounding region. The money derived from the success of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., where Gray served as president and chairman. His brother, wife and two sons would eventually decide to donate it to a medical school willing to relocate to Winston-Salem. Wake Forest College, then located in Wake Forest, N.C., eventually agreed to move its two-year medical school and expand it to a four-year curriculum, partnering with N.C. Baptist Hospital.
Timeline of key events
Wake Forest College Medical School is founded as a two-year program in Wake Forest, N.C.
North Carolina Baptist Hospital opens in Winston-Salem as an 88-bed facility with a School of Nursing.
A trust fund of $750,000 established in the will of Bowman Gray Sr. is pledged to relocate the Wake Forest Medical School to Winston-Salem and expand its program to four years.
Bowman Gray School of Medicine opens with 75 students.
North Carolina Baptist Hospital adds programs to train dietitians, nurse anesthesiologists, X-ray technicians and medical technologists.
Members of first graduating class of Bowman Gray School of Medicine receive MD degrees.
The Medical Center becomes the first in the state to use cobalt to treat cancer patients.
The first hand reimplantation in the United States is performed at the Medical Center.
Wake Forest College becomes Wake Forest University.
The Division of Allied Health Sciences and the Physician Assistant program are established.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system is installed, the first in the state at an academic medical center.
Brenner Children’s Hospital is established through a gift from the Brenner Foundation.
Medical Center surgeons perform the first single-lung transplant in the state.
National Cancer Institute designates the Cancer Center of Wake Forest University as a Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The Medical Center is named a Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center.
The Department of Physiology and Pharmacology moves into a converted R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. warehouse in downtown Winston-Salem.
The J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging and Rehabilitation opens as the first center in the world to incorporate geriatric acute care, transitional care, psychiatry and rehabilitation under one roof.
The Medical Center is the first in the world to report the successful use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose significant blockages in blood vessels leading to the heart.
The School of Medicine establishes a Center for Human Genomics to facilitate the identification of high-risk genes linked to common diseases, enabling improved treatment.
The Medical Center announces plans for a long-term expansion of the Piedmont Triad Research Park (now Wake Forest Innovation Quarter) with the goal of creating a 200-acre, mixed-use park focusing on biotechnology and life sciences.
Classes begin at the new Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences.
Internationally recognized tissue engineering program moves to the Medical Center to become the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
The first human recipients of organs grown in the laboratory from patients’ own cells are reported by researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Brenner Children’s Hospital opens a 20,665-square-foot Emergency Department and is designated a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, the first in the state.
The 242,000-square-foot Wake Forest Biotech Place opens in two converted R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. buildings in what is now Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.
A 282,800-square-foot addition to the Comprehensive Cancer Center opens, consolidating inpatient and outpatient services under one roof.
A new division, Wake Forest Innovations, is created to drive the commercialization of products and services developed at Wake Forest Baptist and to manage the development of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter (the renamed Piedmont Triad Research Park).
The Wake Forest Baptist Health – Davie Medical Center campus in Bermuda Run opens. The complex includes a 60,000-square-foot building with medical offices, clinics and other facilities and a 101,000-square-foot building housing a 24-hour emergency department and outpatient surgery, diagnostic imaging and other services.
A six-floor, 282,800-square-foot addition to the Comprehensive Cancer Center opens, consolidating inpatient and outpatient cancer services under one roof.
Wake Forest Baptist receives a $20 million donation – the largest individual gift in its history – from an anonymous donor to research the effects of muscadine grape extract on prostate and breast cancers.
The abdominal organ transplant program at Wake Forest Baptist performs its 3,000th kidney transplant.
The five-floor, 168,000-square-foot Bowman Gray Center for Medical Education opens in a former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco facility in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.
A 50-bed, 78,000-square-foot inpatient wing opens at Wake Forest Baptist Health – Davie Medical Center, consolidating all of the hospital’s services at the Bermuda Run campus.
The 130-bed Wilkes Regional Medical Center became Wake Forest Baptist Health – Wilkes Medical Center.