UIC Department of Psychiatry

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UIC College of Medicine

UIC College of Medicine

Before there was a UIC College of Medicine, there was the College of Physicians and Surgeons, known colloquially as “the P & S,” founded in 1881 by five physician educators.1 The founders bought a 97- by 100-foot lot in the northwest corner of Harrison and Honore streets, opposite the entrance to Cook County Hospital, formed a building committee chaired by McWilliams, and chose George H. Edbrooke as architect.2 The four-story, Queen Anne-style building, topped by a 100-foot Gothic tower and faced with Lemont limestone, was completed in 1882. It featured a “dead house” refrigerator with capacity for 100 bodies, a lecture room for 226, a museum gallery, chemical laboratory, library, and a 450-seat amphitheater.

The college opened in September 1882 with an initial enrollment of 100 students. In the course of the first year, that swelled to 165. Fifteen years later, the college affiliated with the University of Illinois, which soon absorbed it, along with the private Chicago College of Pharmacy and the private Chicago Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary. The original college building was razed in 1938. That event led to the discovery of a sealed, lead box concealed in the cornerstone, containing documents relating to the founding of the P & S. The stone was saved, and is now in the courtyard of the College of Medicine West building. The collection retrieved from the box, including the cornerstone itself, held 30 items. Three items from the original inventory are missing.


The Psychiatric Institute

Psychiatric Institute

The Department of Psychiatry’s Psychiatric Institute at 1601 West Taylor Street was originally the site of the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute, known as “ISPI.” ISPI (the organization, as opposed to the building), was founded in 1907 as a collaboration between the state and the university “as a clearing house for processing patients to the state hospitals,” according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago. Seriously disturbed patients were “contained” there.

ISPI, the building, was dedicated June 12, 1959. It was also known as “Big ISPI” to distinguish it from the Illinois State Pediatric Institute, sometimes known as “Little ISPI.” Big ISPI was the last of three Illinois institutes founded and commended by the state legislature for the “health and welfare of the People of the State of Illinois.”

In 1961 the state formed the Department of Mental Health. Its Medical Center Complex comprised IJR, ISPI, and the Illinois Institute for the Developmentally Disabled. A few years later, the state established its zoned system of care, which became the national model during the era of the Great Society’s support of mental health programs.

Mayor Richard J. Daley answered a 1965 call for a four-year campus in the city by leading the drive to create the University of Illinois Circle Campus (UICC), a cause he had championed from his earliest days in the Illinois General Assembly in the 1930s. The official title, “The University of Illinois Chicago Circle," and the more common moniker, "Circle campus," referred to the nearby intersection of three major expressways. The modern UIC was formed in 1982 by the consolidation of the two U. of I. campuses: the Medical Center (West) campus and the Chicago Circle (East) campus. The university has phased out the use of "Circle" as a result of consolidation and expansion. "UIC" is the preferred shortened name today.

The state formally transferred ISPI to the university on June 3, 1994. It was the last of three state institutes transferred to UIC – the Institute for Juvenile Research and the Illinois Institute for Developmental Disabilities had been transferred several years earlier.


The Institute for Juvenile Research

Founded in 1909 as the Juvenile Psychopathic Institute, the institute was originally created to investigate the causes of juvenile delinquency, then a rampant problem in Chicago. (Ten years earlier, Hull House reformers Lucy Flowers, Julia Lathrop and Jane Addams successfully lobbied for the creation of the world’s first juvenile court. It was built on Halsted Street, directly across the street from Hull House.) Hired and paid by a five-year, private grant, JPI’s founding Director, William Healy, MD, saw himself as a trailblazer for children’s mental health. He promptly set out on a nationwide fact finding tour, seeking ideas on child guidance clinics. At the time, “there was not even a semblance of anything that could be called a well rounded study of a young human individual,” he wrote.

Institute for Juvenile Research (IJR)

But soon the institute’s work proved so valuable that the court took over its funding. In 1917, it became part of the state’s new Department of Public Welfare, which changed the institute’s name to the Institute for Juvenile Research. As part of a state agency, IJR was naturally oriented toward service. The addition of a privately funded Behavior Research Fund in the late 1920s allowed IJR to develop an extensive research program, producing ground-breaking works that made significant contributions to the understanding and treatment of child and adolescent mental health. By the 1930s BRF-funded seminal research on juvenile delinquency, reading, psycho-physiology, the significance of birth order, and other subjects, had earned IJR an esteemed national reputation. Driven in part by those findings, IJR created permanent clinics in many downstate areas, ultimately building 17 clinics by the end of the 1940s. With the 1966 creation of Illinois’ Zoned Centers for community mental health, these clinics were detached from IJR.

The 1960s and early ‘70s marked a second Golden Age for IJR research. A $125,450 grant, for example, included funds for a mobile psychology laboratory the size of a school bus. Intended to “bring the lab” to hundreds of Chicago school children, the lab was sound-proof, light-proof, and air-conditioned. It featured three testing rooms, one-way observation mirrors, a small kitchen, and lavatory. By the early ‘70s, IJR had more than a dozen different program sections. But by the end of that decade, research funds were becoming increasingly scarce. In 1983, the state discontinued IJR’s research department and in 1990 IJR was integrated into the UIC Department of Psychiatry.

Since then, IJR has experienced yet another renaissance with more than 35 faculty and 65 professional staff engaged in a broad spectrum of research and training addressing pressing issues such as HIV risk, access to effective school services, epidemiology of drug abuse, services for families in the child welfare system, and innovative treatments for ADHD, disruptive behavior, mood disorder, and anxiety. The Institute also offers child psychiatry clinical services with over 45,000 patients seen annually, and leading training programs in child psychiatry, psychology and social work.


The Neuropsychiatric Institute

The Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI)

The Neuropsychiatric Institute was established in 1942 under the auspices of the Illinois Department of Public Welfare and the University of Illinois. Its mission was to study mental and nervous disorders, and provide psychiatric training for practitioners. This facilitated an affiliation between psychiatric programs in Chicago’s medical schools, and those in the state hospitals.

The institute was originally directed as a joint venture between the UIC departments of Neurology and Psychiatry, with neurology patients, offices and labs in the north wing, and psychiatry patients, offices and labs in the south wing.

Francis Gerty, MD, first chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, brought together an interdisciplinary group that included Franz Alexander, founder of the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute; W.S. McCullough, MD, DPH, who developed computational models of brain function; Ladislas van Meduna, MD, developer of metrazol, convulsive shock therapy, and other organic therapies for medical psychosis; and Abraham Low, MD, who developed the recovery method of self-help for recently discharged psychiatric patients.

In the 1960s Melvin Sabshin, MD, the department’s second chairperson, created a section of Medical Psychology and added anthropologists and sociologists to NPI to create a framework for a Public and Community Psychiatry Department. In addition to leading the department’s vigorous growth in the direction of Social Psychiatry, Dr. Sabshin developed a strong psychoanalytical psychotherapy group.

During the 1980s, under the direction of Lester Rudy, MD, the department began a process of “re-medicalization,” with formation of many specialized programs, such as an Affective Disorders Clinic and a Comprehensive Care Clinic for schizophrenic patients. Close collaborations with basic researchers at the Illinois State Psychiatric Institute (ISPI) were fostered.

Today, NPI remains the nucleus of the Department of Psychiatry’s Residency Education and Training Program, and Clinical Services. Within NPI, the department’s research, education, and clinical missions are integrated around patient care.

The faculty and staff of UIC’s Department of Psychiatry are dedicated to exploring causes, treatments, and cures for severe mental illnesses. From deep within the cellular level of human functioning, to the complex dynamics of daily human life, our researchers, clinicians, and teachers strive to bring mental health and well being to people in the Chicago area and throughout the world.




1. Charles Warrington Earle, a civil war veteran and founder of the Women’s Hospital Medical College in 1871; Abraham Reeves Jackson, a gynecological surgeon who taught at Rush and became the first president of the P & S; Daniel Atkinson King Steele, a professor of orthopedic surgery and the youngest founder; Samuel Anderson McWilliams, an instructor at the Women’s Hospital Medical College; and Leonard St. John, a Canadian medical graduate of McGill and the first Professor of Demonstrations of Surgery, Surgical Appliances, and Minor Surgery. 

2. “To acquire a knowledge of the latest improvements in buildings of this character, (Edbrooke) visited the principal medical schools in the eastern cities, and obtained many valuable suggestions. As a result of his labors the college edifice is scarcely surpassed by any in this country in beauty of design, excellence of construction, or adaptation to its purposes,” states the first annual announcement of the College of Physicians and Surgeons .

UIC College of Medicine
Text adapted from: http://www.uic.edu/depts/lib/specialcoll/services/lhsc/ead/LHS-EAD-5f.html#a2 
Ward, Patricia Spain. "An Experiment in Medical Education; or How the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago Became the University of Illinois College of Medicine." In Medicine in Transition: The Centennial of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, edited by Edward P. Cohen, M.D., 26-51. Chicago: University of Illinois College of Medicine, 1981. 
The Psychiatric Institute
Text by George E. Manning and Deborah Rissing, and adapted from: http://www.uic.edu/depts/lib/specialcoll/services/lhsc/ead/LHS-EAD-5f.html#a2

George E. Manning, History of UIC’s Department of Psychiatry

Manning, A Brief History of the UIC Department of Psychiatry

Institute for Juvenile Research
Text by George E. Manning and Deborah Rissing, and adapted from:
For the Welfare of Every Child: A Brief History of the Institute for Juvenile Research

1901-2004, Fred W. Beuttler, Ph.D., Office of the UIC Historian

The Neuropsychiatric Institute
George E. Manning, History of UIC’s Department of Psychiatry

Adapted from:
Online Encyclopedia of Chicago: Mental Health