Whether you’re a pre-med hopeful looking to perfect your application list or a curious patient hoping for rapid medical advancements, it helps to know which medical institutes are leading the way in medicine in the 21st century. These universities have educated some of the most important doctors, scientists, and professors to wear medical scrubs (and, in many cases, lab coats) in the past 200-plus years. Without these schools, we wouldn’t have many life-saving vaccines, surgical techniques, and medical devices that are a vital part of the medical landscape today. The following medical schools deserve all the prestige.
- Harvard University: Boston, MA – Harvard Medical School has consistently been rated the number-one medical school for research by U.S. News and World Report. This fact is unsurprising, given that Harvard has incubated many American medical advancements, including the first use of anesthesia for pain control during surgery, the first successful human kidney transplant, and the first reattachment of a severed human limb. Notable alums include the father of modern chemotherapy Sidney Farber, and the father of American psychology William James, among many others. Interestingly, screenwriter Michael Crichton is also one of the school’s most famous alums.
- Johns Hopkins: Baltimore, MD – The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore seems to be constantly duking it out with Harvard and Stanford to take the title of the best medical school for research. The institute shares a campus with Johns Hopkins Hospital, which was ranked the nation’s number-one hospital for 22 years by U.S. News. Its alumni—which include the esteemed neurosurgeon Harvey Williams Cushing and the poet Gertrude Stein—boast a combined 16 Nobel prizes in Medicine or Chemistry.
- Stanford University: Stanford, CA – The Stanford University School of Medicine, founded in 1908, has consistently ranked among the top medical universities in the past 100 or so years. Among its faculty are eight Nobel Prize winners, 31 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 42 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and four MacArthur fellows who have received genius grants. Stanford’s students and alums are no strangers to awards, fellowships, and accomplishments, which should come as no surprise since the admission rate (2.5 percent) is one of the lowest in the country.
- New York University: New York, NY – The NYU School of Medicine (Langone) is another research-based medical institution that consistently ranks high by the major rating organizations, thanks in part to its selectivity, as its acceptance rate hovers around 1.8 percent. Notable scientists and doctors to come out of Langone include polio vaccine discoverers Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, Clinique Creator Norman Orentreich, and South Beach Diet Creator and Cardiologist Arthur Agatston, among many others. Former and current faculty members include the famed neurologist Oliver Sacks and Columbian neuroscientist Rodolfo Linás.
- University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: Chapel Hill, NC – The University of North Carolina School of Medicine offers one of the top-ranked programs for primary care practice. In fact, it earned the title of number-one medical school for primary care by U.S. News in 2018 and 2013. The school claims several important alums, including geneticist and Human Genome Project Head Francis Collins, as well as National Cancer Institute Director Norman Sharpless. With a faculty-student ratio of 1.9:1 and an acceptance rate of less than 3 percent, this prestigious institute leads the way for public universities in medicine.
- University of California, San Francisco: San Francisco, CA – The UCSF School of Medicine is another public option that’s doggedly competing with the Ivies. It is one of the most selective medical schools in the United States; In 2007, over 8,000 people applied, and only 505 were accepted. Notable alums and faculty members include Nobel Laureate and former President of the Salk Institute Elizabeth Blackburn, and American Pediatrician and former FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler, among many other significant figures in medicine.
- University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, PA – Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine leads the way in terms of biomedical research and has helped to support many significant medical advancements. In fact, it was one of the earliest med schools to teach and study the fields of neurosurgery, ophthalmology, dermatology, and radiology. Important alums include American Geneticist and Nobel Laureate Michael Stuart Brown, Neurologist and Biochemist Stanley B. Prusiner, Biologist and Nobel Prize Winner Gerald Edelman, Poet William Carlos Williams, and TV Doctor Mehmet Oz (Dr. Oz), among others.
- Duke University: Durham, NC – The Duke University School of Medicine is one of the world’s top patient care and biomedical research institutions, consistently ranking on the list of the top 10 medical schools for research. Its faculty includes two Nobel laureates—Physician Robert Lefkowitz and Biochemist Paul Modrich, both winners of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry—as well as several other distinguished professors.
- Mayo Clinic School of Medicine: Rochester, MN – The Mayo Clinic School of Medicine is one of the most selective medical schools in the country, accepting only 2.1 percent of applicants. It ranks number six (tied with Penn) on this year’s list of best medical schools for research by U.S. News. The institution is the educational division of the Mayo Clinic, which is widely regarded as the best hospital in the U.S. Compared with many of the other schools on this list, the Mayo Clinic’s is relatively new, having been founded in 1972.
- University of California, Los Angeles: Los Angeles, CA – The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, named after media mogul David Geffen (who donated $200 million to the school), has brought many important medical advancements to the health care landscape since its founding in 1951. Among its faculty are Pharmacologist and Nobel Prize Winner Louis Ignarro and Neurobiologist Alcino J. Silva. The institution has an acceptance rate of 3.2 percent and receives over 11,000 applications every year.
Leading the Way in Medical Advancements
American medical schools have led the way for important health care advancements for centuries and continue to do so with groundbreaking discoveries each day. We have these prestigious institutions to thank for setting the stage for the current and future medical landscape.