Department History

  • 1767

    King's College Medical School is founded.

    King’s College would later become Columbia University.

  • 1807

    The College of Physicians and Surgeons (P&S) is chartered by the New York State Board of Regents.

    P&S would merge with the medical faculty of Columbia College in 1814.

  • 1868

    Presbyterian Hospital is founded by James Lenox, a New York City philanthropist.

    Lenox also helped create the New York Public Library system. His gifts included land for the original hospital site and donations totaling $600,000.

  • 1911

    Presbyterian Hospital appoints Margaret Galt Boise as a nurse anesthetist.

    Trained by Florence Henderson in ether anesthesia, Boise collaborates with Hugh H. Young to create the Boise-Young anesthesia apparatus.

  • 1916

    Nurse Anna Penland joins Presbyterian Hospital's surgical team, which goes to France during WWI.

    Upon her return, she becomes chief anesthetist at Presbyterian Hospital and serves in that role until 1938.

  • 1928

    Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center (CPMC) is established.

    It is the first medical center to combine patient care, medical education, and research facilities in a single complex.

  • 1938

    Virginia Apgar becomes the director of the new Division of Anesthesiology at CPMC.

    She would go on to create the Apgar Score for establishing the health of newborns, which is still in use today. Apgar served as director until 1949.

  • 1939

    Apgar publishes "Experience with Pontocaine Spinal Anesthesia."

    This is the first research paper published by a member of the CPMC anesthesiology service.

  • 1942

    The U.S. Army's 2nd General Hospital is staffed by Presbyterian Hospital doctors and nurses.

    First deployed to England and then France, the staff includes Elmer Sanders, MD, and RNs Dorothy Reichling and Janet Hopkins.

  • 1949

    E. M. Papper is appointed attending anesthesiologist and executive officer at CPMC.

    Under Papper, the anesthesiology service has 32 physicians and four nurse anesthetists.

  • 1952

    Virginia Apgar becomes the first professor of anesthesiology at P&S.

    She is also the first woman to become a professor at the college.

  • 1952

    The Department of Surgery's Division of Anesthesiology is granted independent department status.

    The change creates only the fourth such department in the nation. E. M. Papper becomes the Department of Anesthesiology's first chair.

  • 1965

    The Black Medical Research Building opens.

    This new facility quadruples the department's research space. One year later, the  department expands to a staff of 65.

  • 1969

    Shih-Hsun Ngai is appointed chair of anesthesiology.

    Ngai spends almost his entire professional career at CUMC’s Department of Anesthesiology as a distinguished clinician, scientist, teacher, and mentor.

  • 1973

    Henrik Bendixen becomes chair of anesthesiology.

    Bendixen focuses on education, the expansion of services into the ICU and pain centers, and promotes the use of the pulse oximeter and capnograph.

  • 1984

    Allen Hyman serves as interim chair of the department.

    Hyman later establishes the Allen I. Hyman History of Anesthesia Lecture Series.

  • 1984

    The E. M. Papper Chair is established.

    Papper served as chair of the Department of Anesthesiology from 1952 to 1969.

  • 1986

    Edward D. Miller is appointed department chair.

    Miller, who served until 1996, greatly expanded the department's research efforts through increased funding.

  • 1993

    The Henrik H. Bendixen Professorship of Anesthesiology is established for the vice-chair of research.

  • 1994

    Mieczyslaw Finster serves as interim chair of anesthesiology until 1996.

    Finster also serves as acting director of Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center’s anesthesiology service.

  • 1996

    Margaret Wood is named chair of anesthesiology.

    She oversees a process of further specialization and expansion of the department.

  • 2002

    The department celebrates its 50th anniversary.

  • 2005

    The Ngai Jubilee Chair is established for the vice-chair of education.

  • 2010

    The Henrik H. Bendixen Professorship of Anesthesiology is established for the vice-chair of clinical affairs.

  • 2015

    Grand opening of the Margaret Wood Center for Simulation and Education.

  • 2016

    Ansgar Brambrink is named chair of anesthesiology.

    An internationally renowned expert in brain injury, Brambrink specializes in clinical care, research, and educational aspects of anesthesia and has expanded the global presence of the department through outreach.