Department History

The University of Iowa's College of Medicine opened in Iowa City in September, 1870. In 1915, the College of Medicine established a separate Department of Pediatrics.

Dr. Albert H. Byfield, founding Department Chair

Dr. Albert Henry Byfield was chosen as the first department head and became the first trained pediatrician on the medical school faculty, and initially, the sole pediatrician. In 1919, he was joined by Dr. Mark Floyd who had received his MD from Iowa in 1918 and then interned under Dr. Byfield in pediatrics. These two men composed the pediatric medical faculty throughout Dr. Byfield's chairmanship.

Coincidentally with Dr. Byfield's coming to Iowa City, an important piece of state legislation was passed. It was particularly important for its lasting effect on pediatrics at the University Hospitals. The "Perkins Law" of 1915 provided funds for the care of indigent children at University Hospitals. The "Perkins Law" resulted in crowded conditions for pediatric patients in the hospital wards. It became apparent that more space was needed, creating the impetus for building a Children's Hospital in 1919.

Dr. Phillip C. Jeans, Department Chair

Dr. Jeans came to Iowa City in 1924 as professor and head of pediatrics and held the position until his retirement in 1952. Dr. Jeans received his MD in 1909 from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, then the leading medical school in the United States.

When Jeans arrived at Iowa, he and faculty member, Dr. Genevieve Stearns began a long series of pioneering studies in infant nutrition and metabolism resulting in numerous publications. In the study of healthy children, they helped establish norms to serve as comparisons with a sick child. Dr. Jeans was a national and international authority in the field of pediatric nutrition and his work was the basis for future hypotheses and studies in nutrition. He was devoted to research and fi rmly established the Department of Pediatrics as a research department at The University of Iowa.

The Jeans era also saw the growth and development of the State Services for Crippled Children (SSCC) Clinics. Initially, field clinics were held every few years in each of the eleven districts to provide consultation and advice to the family physicians and to serve as teaching clinics for physicians in training. In 1941, certain medical societies in the state requested that continuous clinics be held by the SSCC in their communities. These more frequent fi eld clinics allowed much better followup and continuity of care for the child and family. Over the years, the program was renamed the Child Health Specialty Clinics (CHSC). Today CHSC, Iowa’s Title V program for children with special health care needs, is engaged in the development of community health teams with the medical home model often providing the care coordination link.

Dr. Charles D. May, Department Chair

Dr. May’s tenure was a time of transition for the Department of Pediatrics. As an expert in childhood nutrition, he strengthened the department’s scholarly contributions expanding the research programs in nutritional disorders of childhood such as celiac disease and cystic fibrosis and recruiting faculty with research interests. In 1938, Dr. May and Dr. Kenneth Blackfan published a paper in the Journal of Pediatrics, describing some of the clinical aspects of cystic fi brosis in 35 patients. This paper was one of the earliest to recognize cystic fibrosis as a distinct clinical entity.

Dr. May wisely believed that the Department of Pediatrics could not expand or become a modern department if it stayed in Children’s Hospital, for it was too isolated from the mainstream of University Hospital medicine. He devoted much eff ort toward moving the Department into General Hospital which was achieved in 1954. A new outpatient clinic building which contained a small auditorium was built and the Hospital School for Severely Handicapped Children was completed.

Dr. Wallace W. McCrory, Department Chair

Dr. McCrory sought to develop pediatric specialties, stronger fellowship training programs and both clinical and laboratory research. Faculty who arrived during Dr. McCrory’s chairmanship included the first pediatric hematology/oncologist at Iowa, Dr. Robert Carter; Dr. Johannes Zellweger, a renowned dysmorphologist with research interests including neuromuscular diseases, human genetics and cytogenetics; and Dr. Jacqueline Noonan, the first trained pediatric cardiologist at Iowa. Dr. McCrory‘s area of special interest was pediatric nephrology and during his chairmanship, the Pediatric Nephrology Division was established. During Dr. McCrory’s tenure, the Department of Pediatrics assumed professional responsibility for the management of the Newborn Nursery. Recognition of medical genetics led to the creation of a separate Division of Medical Genetics.

In 1958, the Child Development Clinic opened to serve as a diagnostic clinic for developmental, learning and behavior problems in children. In 1960, through a grant from the National Institutes of Health, the chromosome lab was opened by Dr. Zellweger, one of the fi rst human cytogenetics laboratories in the United States. In 1963, Dr. Zellweger encountered an infant with features and abnormalities that he correctly diagnosed as a unique disorder. This condition, now known as the cerebro-hepato-renal syndrome, or the Zellweger syndrome, has been recognized as the prototypic peroxisomal metabolic disorder.

In 1978, faculty in the Division of Medical Genetics joined with faculty in the College of Medicine and Graduate School to initiate an interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program in Genetics at the University, and
collaborated with the staff of the Birth Defects Institute of the Iowa State Department of Health to reorganize the state’s program for newborn metabolic and genetic screening.

Dr. Donal Dunphy, Department Chair

Dr. Dunphy’s early work was in infectious diseases including the development of simple media for culture of the tubercle bacillus. During Dr. Dunphy’s tenure as Department Head, the adolescent ward was opened. The first infant intensive care unit with cardiorespiratory monitors and ventilators opened in 1968. An intensive care lab was built nearby to provide around-the-clock microchemistry laboratory service. The Pediatric Outpatient area was expanded and remodeled in 1972. In 1974, a new Pediatric Cardiology area was built housing the new cardiac
catheterization lab.

Dr. Dunphy devoted much thought and effort to the improvement of the residency program. When he came in 1961, the housestaff consisted of nine residents. During his tenure, the residency program grew in terms of national respect and numbers, as there were twenty-one residents when he stepped down.

Dr. Fred G. Smith, Department Chair

During Dr. Smith’s leadership, the Department grew in size and depth of faculty and added new divisions. The first neonatal ICU opened in 1975. In 1981, a newly remodeled Intermediate Care Nursery opened, followed by the opening of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. In 1982, a new Neonatal ICU opened and the Newborn Nursery was remodeled. In 1982, the John Colloton Pavilion opened, encompassing the Pediatric Clinic, Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia Wards; Intermediate Intensive Care Unit; and the Adolescent and Toddler Wards.

Dr. Frank Morriss, Department Chair

During Dr. Morriss’ tenure, the Department developed a strong research enterprise, ranking in the top 10 of all pediatric departments in NIH funding. He created a solid foundation of faculty who were essential to advancing the UI pediatric clinical, education and research goals. The fellowship program was expanded in multiple specialties. Contemporary and expanded PICU (16 beds) and a NICU (70 beds) and an adjacent labor and delivery unit were opened under his leadership.

Dr. Michael Artman, Department Chair

Dr. Artman came to create a stand alone University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital to compete with the top ranked children’s hospitals in the country. By creating programs of distinction, UI Children’s Hospital was ranked in the top 25 children’s hospitals in the country. His research priority was to continue growing the research enterprise. His vision, leadership, and tireless efforts advanced UI Children’s Hospital market share, brand recognition, and philanthropic support.

Dr. Raphael Hirsch, Department Chair

Dr. Raphael Hirsch envisioned that the Department could be among the best pediatric departments and the hospital could be one of the best children’s hospitals in the nation.  In October 2013, the Department was formally named the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics.  The Stead Family Children’s Hospital, a 190 bed hospital, opened in the spring of 2017.   

Jerre and Mary Joy Stead, natives of Maquoketa, Iowa, along with their sons Joel and Jay and their families, have committed life-changing support for children’s medicine at Iowa that will benefit patients, families, and the health care team for generations to come. In recognition of their remarkable generosity, the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics and University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital were named in their honor.

During Dr. Hirsch’s tenure, faculty were recruited for all Divisions, resulting in a fifty percent increase to a total of 155 faculty at time of his departure.  Both inpatient and outpatient clinical activities grew, new Directors were internationally recruited for a majority of the Divisions, and strong departmental research continued with impressive rankings among its peers.  All of those activities took place during a time of national trends for both lower reimbursements and decreased federal funding.  A heightened level of philanthropic endeavors resulted in a large number of additional endowed chairs and endowed professorships.  During Dr. Hirsch’s leadership, the residency program grew to 46 and fellowship programs expanded to nearly all of the Divisions.