Rush Medical College has a rich history of education and research excellence, dating back to our founding in 1837. Many pioneers have passed through our halls, including David Jones Peck, MD, the first Black man to receive a medical degree in the United States; Leonidas Berry, MD, the inventor of the gastroscope; and Emily Blackwell, MD, the third woman to earn a medical degree in the country.
Rush has always been an institution dedicated to progress and inclusion. From the beginning, we have been focused on the quest for the next scientific discovery, improving the health of our communities, giving back to our neighbors and educating the future generation of health care leaders.
Today our mission-driven approach keeps us focused on progress. What are the greatest challenges of our time? What can we do in health care — as both providers and educators and as an industry — to address those problems?
Although there isn’t an easy, straightforward answer to those questions, we can draw on the examples of Drs. Peck, Berry and Blackwell as inspiration. They came to Rush Medical College at a time when our society imposed obstacles along their routes toward success. Despite the challenges, they all persevered and dedicated themselves service and healing, and they and did so with resiliency and grace.
The COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing political divide and continued racial injustice in our country have made the last year extremely difficult. Let’s continue to ask tough questions of ourselves, our institutions and our community. By drawing on the strength and courage of pioneers — from Drs. Peck, Berry and Blackwell to countless others — we have the unique opportunity to help make our world healthier, stronger and more inclusive.
Rush University Medical Center Archives featured Dr. Peck in a four-part blog series. I hope you can take a few moments to learn more about the life and legacy of this heroic alumnus.
Badrinath R. Konety, MD, MBA, MBBS
Dean, Rush Medical College
Senior Vice President, Rush University System for Health