American University of Beirut


​​​​​​​​ History of the Faculty of Medicine

​​ From the date of inception of the School of Medicine, now known as the Faculty of Medicine, in 1867, and until 1925, no basic science departments existed. Instead, the medical sciences, which are traditionally the academic disciplines under the auspices of specialized basic science departments, such as anatomy, histology, biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology, were taught as courses by professors from other schools in the University or by practicing professors in various clinical disciplines, particularly surgery and medicine. Those professors had gathered whatever scanty information was available on any topic in the basic science disciplines and presented it in the form of a course considered a pre-requisite for what came later as clinical information and practice. Thus, biochemistry was taught for a long time by a chemist with essential focus on the chemistry of proteins, fats and carbohydrates; anatomy and physiology were taught by practicing physicians; pharmacology was taught under the title of Materia Medica by a dermatologist.

History of Basic Medical Sciences​

The Faculty of Medicine and its Basic Science departments owe an eternal debt of gratitude to Dr. St. John Ward (1880-1951), who was instrumental in creating the Basic Science departments, to use the words of Dr. Stanley Kerr an earlier eminent professor in the Basic Science departments. Dr. Ward joined the School of Medicine as professor of surgery and later served as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine which included four schools: Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Nursing. He was also the Director of the School of Medicine, and held these posts from 1925 until 1937. Following a year of furlough in the U.S.A. in 1925 and upon his return as Dean, he started a process of modernization of the school including the creation of the Basic Science departments. In the 1925-26 University catalogue one reads: "The School of Medicine patterned its course after the requirements of an acceptable Medical School, Class A, according to the standards of the Council of Medical Education of the American Medical Association. The entrance requirements are similar to those of the best medical schools in America.​

History of Pharmacology and Toxicology Department​

In 1930 a new medical building was constructed by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, given the name of Van Dyck Hall, to house the newly organized departments of Anatomy-Embryology, Histology and Neuroanatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology. The teaching in pharmacology to medical students had historically included a course in basic pharmacology to the second year students and another of applied pharmacology or therapeutics at either the third or fourth year levels until 1950 when the teaching was consolidated into a main course of basic as well as applied pharmacology. It is interesting to note that as early as 1926, an elective course in research in pharmacology was provided to interested students, long before the discipline of pharmacology was consolidated into an autonomous department.

The Faculty of the Department has included prominent professors across its history, including Walter Booth Adams (1924-1929), Harold B.O. Holck (1929-1934), Munir Kanaan (1933-1987), Otto Krayer (1934-1937) who later became Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, James Oliver Pinkstone (1937-1950) who became Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Director of the School of Medicine at AUB, George Fawaz (1937-1950, Chairman 1950-1984), Joseph Simaan (1960 until the present, Chairman 1984-2012, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, 1978-1987 and 1994-2000), Nadim Cortas (1972-1985 and 1994 until the present, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Vice President of Medical Affairs 2000-2010) and Ramzi Sabra (1985-1987 and 1993 until the present, Assistant Dean for Research 2000-2006, and Assistant Dean of Medical Education 2006 until the present). Dr. Nathalie Zgheib joined the department in 2007. Starting in 2012, a n effort to expand the department resulted in successful recruitment of 3 faculty members Drs. Ali Eid, Ahmed El-Yazbi and Fouad Zouein.

(from George Fawaz: Medicus, AUB publication, vol. 15, 1983; AUB catalogues) ​

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