The Department of Pediatrics is ranked consistently among the nation's best. It is committed to providing superior programs of instruction for medical students and residents; advancing specialty knowledge in the medical sciences, particularly as it relates to the health problems of children; and maintaining its role as a major contributor to research training and scientific activities that enhance the health of children everywhere.
In 1943, Baylor University College of Medicine (now Baylor College of Medicine) accepted the invitation to become the first institution in the fledgling Texas Medical Center in Houston. At that time, James H. Park, Jr., M.D., was offered and accepted an appointment to the college's voluntary clinical faculty and thus became professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics. The following year, George W. Salmon, M.D., was appointed assistant professor and was the first full-time faculty member in the department.
Growth and Progress - The Blattner Years (1947-1977)
In 1947, Russell J. Blattner, M.D., accepted an invitation to join the college's faculty as the first full-time chair of the Department of Pediatrics, as well as chief of Pediatric Services at Hermann Hospital. He was joined by Florence M. Heys, Ph.D., an instructor in pediatrics who engaged in pediatric research and handled some of the teaching assignments. By 1952, the department had grown to 10 full-time clinical faculty and three full-time research staff members. In addition, teaching affiliations had been established with numerous institutions in Houston, including Jefferson Davis Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, The Methodist Hospital, and the Junior League Children's Clinic.
A pivotal event in the Department of Pediatrics' growth was the opening, in 1954, of Texas Children's Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. Under a formal affiliation agreement between the hospital and BCM, the chair of the Department of Pediatrics would be physician-in-chief and all chiefs of services would be BCM faculty members. The hospital's opening contributed to the creation of Baylor College of Medicine's Affiliated Hospitals Residency Program, which has allowed BCM to recruit and provide postdoctoral training to some of the nation's finest graduates from the best American medical schools.
The progress of the department has continued for more than 55 years, with faculty members contributing to the medical knowledge in a variety of fields. In the late 1940s, Dr. Blattner and Dr. Fred Taylor led a group of BCM researchers in their pursuit of the source of the polio virus. A decade later, Drs. Murdina Desmond, Ellard Yow, Martha Yow, and William Daeschner, all department faculty members, were instrumental in focusing attention on the plight of pediatric patients during a devastating epidemic of penicillin-resistant staphylococcal disease in Houston. The epidemic finally was brought under control with the use of a new antibiotic developed by Dr. Ellard. The department continued to grow both in size and stature, and in 1971, the J.S. Abercrombie Chair in Pediatrics, which provided support for the chair, was announced.
Exponential Growth - The Feigin Years (1977-2008)
In 1977, Dr. Blattner retired, and Ralph D. Feigin, M.D., a renowned expert in the field of pediatric infectious diseases, was recruited to become the department's second full-time chair and physician-in-chief at Texas Children's. He held these positions until his death in August 2008.
Under his leadership, the Pediatric faculty grew from 39 to 539. Federal research funds went from $355,000 to $89 million. In all, Feigin trained more than 2,000 pediatricians and pediatric specialists. Of those, two went on to become medical school deans, 22 became associate medical school deans, 10 became pediatric department chairmen, and 180 became section heads of pediatrics.
During the first decade of Dr. Feigin's tenure, the number of research dollars increased from little over $1 million to almost $17 million and the largest single program, The Children's Nutrition Research Center, was funded operationally at $5.3 million per year and a $55 million construction appropriation was secured. His Monumental two-volume Textbook on Pediatric Infectious Diseases, co-edited with Dr. James Cherry and, in the last two editions, with Drs. Sheldon Kaplan and Gail Demmler-Harrison, is the definitive textbook in this field.
The department continued its unprecedented growth, even while Feigin served as president and CEO of BCM from 1996 to 2003. In 1997, a dedicated research center was named for Dr. Feigin and his wife, Dr. Judith Feigin. Dr. Feigin also was instrumental in designing and implementing Vision 2010, which includes research facilities and a suburban pediatric hospital.
View Dr. Feigin's last interview, with Christi Myers of KTRK.
Moving Forward with Dr. Mark Kline (2009 onward)
After a year-long search was conducted by BCM and Texas Children's, Dr. Mark W. Kline was appointed chair of the Department of Pediatrics at BCM and physician-in-chief of Texas Children's, effective July 1, 2009.
Dr. Kline has a long-standing medical career with BCM and Texas Children's. He received his M.D. degree with Honors from BCM in 1981, served his residency in pediatrics at BCM and Texas Children's, and was chief resident for the department.
A prominent figure in his own right in the global medical community, Dr. Kline brings a unique perspective to the opportunities and challenges facing pediatric health care today. He is a world-renowned authority in the treatment, research, and global outreach for children with HIV/AIDS. He is founder and president of the Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative, a program that encompasses HIV/AIDS care and treatment, as well as health professional education and training programs, in nine African countries, Mexico, and Romania. BIPAI provides care and treatment to more children than any other HIV/AIDS organization worldwide. Dr. Kline's appointment signals an exciting new era of growth and vitality.