McGoogan News

From the archives: Telemedicine at UNMC

By John Schleicher

UNMC was a leader in using technology to carry out distance education and telemedicine. An early form of teleconferencing was used to present educational conferences to a number of participating locations across Nebraska as well as in other states. This innovation was first proposed in 1955 by Dr. Cecil Wittson (at that time head of the former Nebraska Psychiatric Institute), and developed through the cooperation of the Bell Telephone Company. The system was used weekly to share the lectures of the institute’s many nationally known visitors with other mental hospitals in four states.19xxPsychiatric_Institute_Benschoter

The first two-way closed circuit television system in the U.S. was conceived by Dr. Wittson and developed and tested through grant support secured in 1963. This television system made possible face-to-face communication between the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute located on the medical campus in Omaha and the Norfolk State Mental Hospital 112 miles away. Dr. Wittson’s close associate in these telemedicine innovations was Reba Benschoter, Ph.D. (shown). Wittson was chair of Psychiatry (1952-1964), COM Dean (1964-1968), and the first Chancellor of UNMC (1968-1972). Dr. Benschoter was later head of the Biomedical Communications Department and from 1985-1995 she was associate dean of the School of Allied Health Professions.

From the archives: Happy 500th birthday Vesalius

Vesalius_PortraitAndreas Vesalius, born December 31, 1514, in Brussels, was descended from a family of prominent physicians in city of Wesel in the Duchy of Cleves. As a young man, he studied medicine in Montpellier and Paris and later moved to Louvain to teach anatomy. After serving as an army surgeon in France, he moved to Padua in 1537, where he became a professor of anatomy.

In 1543, his famous De corporis humani fabrica libri septem (Seven books on the fabric of the human body) was published. That same year he was appointed as court physician to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. He later set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but while in Cyprus he was called back to Padua to take an honored chair in anatomy. He died on October 15, 1564.

Among other works by Vesalius, the library owns a second edition (1555) of De corporis humani fabrica, as well as a recently-published two-volume complete English translation of the 1543 first edition and the 1555 second edition.

For more information about the rare book collection, contact the Special Collections Department at 402-559-7094 or

From the archives: Run to 101, COM Centennial

Submitted by John Schleicher

On Tuesday, September 30, 1980, 20 University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine students gathered at Henry, Nebraska, on the Wyoming border, at 6:40 a.m. to begin the 480 mile, “Run to 101.”

The students, almost all of whom are native Nebraskans and in their second year of medical school, relayed an official Olympic torch across the state, from Henry to Omaha, to symbolize the statewide importance of the College of Medicine’s first 100 years. The students covered approximately 80 miles per day.

Other students drove to a number of towns along the runners’ route to talk to high school students on health career opportunities available at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Dinners were planned along the “Run to 101” route in Scottsbluff, Ogallala, North Platte, Kearney, Grand Island, and Columbus in honor of the College of Medicine.

The students arrived at the medical center campus on October 5, at 4:15 p.m. At this time the eternal flame of the centennial sculpture was lit.

Centennial run

Front Row (left to right): John Lortz, Brad Rodgers, Kevin O’Dell, Dennis Bozarth, Garth Asay, Doug Treptow, Doug Ebers, Norma Jean Fuelberth

Back Row (left to right): Mike Murphy, Ed Fobben, Jeff David, John Skoumal, Doug Long, Jay Matzke, Richard McChane, Jerry Wolford, Scott Haswell, Scott Howe, Evan Blanchard.

From the archives: How the state medical school will look

Med School look 1916

THE PULSE, University of Nebraska College of Medicine, Omaha, Nebraska, Vol. X, No. 6, February 23, 1916, p. 10-11.

Here is the medical school of the University of Nebraska, which the state has started to build at Forty-Second Street and Dewey Avenue. One building is now in use and a second is to be built shortly, the contract having been awarded. The others will be built as appropriations are made.

The building in the foreground to the right is the college now in use. Immediately behind this is the proposed nurses’ home. The long building in the center is the hospital, now under contract for construction, and in the foreground at the left, only a corner showing, is the proposed additional college building.

The hospital, to cost $130,000, is being built to fill two direct demands: to provide medical and surgical care for the indigent, worthy sick of the state, and second, to furnish teaching advantages for students in the college. Each county will be allowed to send its quota of charges to be given this free medical and surgical treatment.

The big hospital is to be three stories and basement and to consist of three wings. In the central wing on the ground floor will be the receiving department and hospital store rooms. The first floor is for the offices and for the hospital proper. Quarters for interns and the house physicians will be on the second floor. The roof above this will be tiled and have a high coping, providing a roof garden, where patients may be wheeled for open air treatment.

In the basement of the north wing will be the department of pathology and a demonstration class room. The first floor above will be the male medical ward of sixteen beds, with rest rooms, nurses’ work rooms, etc. The second floor above will be the same equipment and number of beds for male surgical patients, and the third floor will be for special male cases and various specialties and male children. The other wing will be the same, but for women patients.

The buildings are to be entirely of brick, stone and terra cotta. The campus will be given over to shrubbery and ornamental flower beds. The building is to be completed by January 1, 1917. John Latenser & Sons of Omaha are architects.

Contact the Archives at 402-559-7094 or for more information on the history of UNMC.

Harry Potter’s World exhibit

In 1997, British author J. K. Rowling introduced the world to Harry Potter and a literary phenomenon was born. Millions of readers have followed Harry to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he discovers his heritage, encounters new plants and animals, and perfects his magical abilities. Although a fantasy story, the magic in the Harry Potter books is partially based on Renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science, including alchemy, astrology, and natural philosophy. Incorporating the work of several 15th- and 16th-century thinkers, the seven-part series examines important ethical topics such as the desire for knowledge, the effects of prejudice, and the responsibility that comes with power.

This exhibition, using materials from the National Library of Medicine, explores Harry Potter’s world, its roots in Renaissance science, and the ethical questions that affected not only the wizards of Harry Potter, but also the historical thinkers featured in the series.

Visit Harry Potter’s World in the McGoogan Library of Medicine, August 4 – September 13.

You can visit the online exhibit at

This exhibition is brought to you by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, and was curated by Elizabeth J. Bland.