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For almost two centuries, medical breakthroughs at Massachusetts General Hospital have transformed the health care landscape – discoveries that continue to improve patient lives and inspire quality of care.

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The Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care

Massachusetts General Hospital Milestones

2004
An underlying principle of mammalian reproductive biology is apparently overturned when Mass General researchers find that female mice retain the ability to make new egg cells well into adulthood.

2004
Researchers from the Mass General Cancer Center and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute separately discover a marker that identifies lung cancer patients whose tumors will respond to treatment with the drug Iressa.

2004
Mass General researchers find that the expression levels of two genes in breast cancer tissue can identify whether tumors that are likely to be successfully treated with tamoxifen.

2004
Mass General welcomes the first patients to the Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care, the largest ambulatory facility in New England.

2003
A Mass General research study shows that a controversial vaccine against HIV can stimulate a critical part of the HIV-specific immune response in chronically infected patients. The result is the first clear demonstration of the potential reconstitution of the immune response in chronic HIV infection.

2003
A Mass General physician and a former colleague receive the Inventor of the Year Award for their invention of a system to safely deliver inhaled nitric oxide gas to treat a number of dangerous lung conditions.

2003
A study conducted at Mass General and a Dutch hospital finds that a new MRI technique may be able precisely to identify the spread of prostate cancer to lymph nodes. The approach is being investigated for tracking the spread of breast, bladder and kidney cancer.

2003
Mass General radiologists show that radiofrequency ablation should be the treatment of choice for the majority of patients suffering with a benign but painful bone tumor known as osteoid osteoma.

2003
Researchers from the Mass General Reproductive Endocrine Unit and collaborators identify an apparent genetic trigger to the onset of puberty for both mice and humans.

2003
Mass General reseachers find that cells from the spleen appear to develop into insulin-producing pancreatic islets in adult mammals.

2002
Mass General researchers find a simple blood test during the first trimester of pregnancy may be able to identify women at risk for preeclampsia, a common and dangerous complication of late pregnancy.

2002
Using a telemedicine connection, Mass General physicians advise doctors at the South Pole as they operate on a patient's fractured knee, the first time that such a technique was used at the Antarctic research station.

2002
Researchers from Mass General and the Whitehead Center for Genome Research find that most human genetic variation is organized into large, neat units called "haplotype" blocks. The scientists are participating in an international effort to construct a haplotype map that may make it faster and easier to identify gene changes associated with susceptibility to common diseases.

2001
Mass General researchers identify a surprising new mechanism by which breast cancer cells metastasize to the lymph nodes and lungs, a pathway that may be a target for treatment strategies.

2001
Mass General researchers discover stem cells within the pancreas that can generate insulin-secreting beta cells. Subsequent research may lead to ways to induce growth of a patient's own pancreatic islet cells for transplantation.

2001
For the first time, Mass General researchers identify how common drugs called NSAIDS, which include aspirin and other anti-inflammatories, act on the central nervous system to reduce pain.

2001
Mass General researchers devise a simple treatment that cures type 1 diabetes in mice. The approach essentially retrains the animal's immune system not to attack insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells.

2001
Mass General embarks on a 20-year master plan to update the hospital's campus – including the building of two new outpatient facilities.

2001
The first International Medical and Surgical Response Team (IMSuRT) of the National Medical Disaster System, based at Mass General, sees its first action in response to the September 11 tragedy in New York City. The Mass General IMSuRT and other Boston disaster teams treat more than 5,000 workers during the first 11 days after the disaster.

2001
The Northeast Proton Therapy Center (NPTC) at Mass General, which delivers highly targeted, precise radiation therapy, begins treating patients. The second hospital-based proton therapy center in the world, the NPTC features the most advanced technology of its kind and a full range of patient and research support services.

2000
Surgeons from the Mass General transplant team are the first to perform split-liver transplant procedures in the Northeastern U.S. The procedure, in which the liver from a single donor is divided between two recipients – usually and adult and a child – is another way to deal with the continuing shortage of donor organs.

2000
A Mass General dermatologist develops new laser techniques that can safely remove unwanted hair from people with darker ethnic skin. Previously laser skin treatments had been ruled out for those with dark skin because of the risk of side effects.

2000
A study led by a Mass General researcher finds that use of an experimental testosterone skin patch can relieve impaired sexual functioning in women who have had their ovaries removed before natural menopause.

2000
A Mass General research team shows that most HIV-infected individuals who begin antiviral therapy during the earliest stages of infection can eventually keep the virus under control with their immune systems alone.

1999
Investigators from the Mass General Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology show that inactivation of a cell-death gene in female mice can sustain ovarian function into advanced age. The discovery may eventually lead to new techniques for reducing the health risks associated with menopause.

1999
A team from the Mass General Bone Marrow Transplant Center and the Transplantation Biology Research Center develop a new, less toxic preparative regimen allowing use of bone marrow transplantation from mismatched donors to treat certain blood-cell cancers. The technique is subsequently used to help induce immune tolerance in an organ transplant recipient. Simultaneous kidney and bone marrow transplantation treated the patient’s multiple myeloma and allowed discontinuation of immunosuppressive drugs without rejection of the kidney.

1999
Mass General researchers are the first to induced the growth of severed adult mammalian spinal cord fibers across the site of the injury without the use of implanted cells or tissues to bridge the severed fibers.

1999
Researchers from the Mass General Cardiac Ultrasound Laboratory report that mitral valve prolapse, an abnormality of a heart valve, does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of stroke among young people. The discovery based on improved understanding of the valve’s shape and function that was developed at Mass General.

1999
Members of the Mass General Pediatric Psychopharmachology Unit show that medical treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (AHDH) – usually involving stimulant drugs like Ritalin – actually reduces the risk of substance abuse among teenage boys with ADHD.

1999
A Mass General-based research team finds that elevated cholesterol appears to be a risk factor for preeclampsia, a condition of pregnancy that can have dangerous consequences for both mother and child. The discovery may lead to ways to reduce the risk of preeclampsia, something that is currently not possible.

1999
An MGH research study identifies a gene malfunction that appears to be central to the development of type 1 diabetes. The study in a classic animal model of type 1 diabetes found that a gene required to help teach the immune system to recognize so-called "self" proteins is somehow inactivated, even though its sequence is not mutated.

1999
A Mass General-based research team shows for the first time that gene therapy may be able to reverse heart failure. The researchers showed that delivering additional copies of a gene called SERCA2a to muscle cells from failing human hearts restored the cells to normal functioning. A follow-up study early in 2000 shows that delivering the same gene to the hearts of rats that are aged but not in heart failure can improve their cardiac function.

1998
Mass General researchers and collaborators from Canada are the first to apply molecular genetic analysis – classification of tumors by genetic information – to diagnosis of brain tumors, discovering genetic changes that indicate whether chemotherapy will be effective in treating a specific type of cancer.

1998
Mass General researchers publish two important studies of treatment with inhaled nitric oxide (NO) — a technique pioneered at the hospital. One shows NO treatment significantly improves the condition of infants with a life-threatening condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension. The other suggests that NO might treat or prevent painful sickle cell crises.

1997
A Mass General-led research team identifies and clones the gene responsible for early-onset dystonia, a crippling, inherited neurological disorder that begins in childhood.

1997
Studies of genes used by tiny worm to regulate their metabolisms reveal striking similarities to genes used to regulate insulin metabolism in humans. The finding could lead to new understanding of and treatment for diabetes.

1997
Investigators from the Mass General Vincent Center for Reproductive Biology identify molecular pathways involved in the destruction of egg cells by a common chemotherapy drug. The discovery could lead to strategies for preserving fertility in girls and women treated with anti-cancer drugs.

1997
Using state-of-the-art imaging techniques, researchers at Mass General reveal how specific areas of the brain react to cocaine, distinguishing patterns of activation associated with feelings of euphoria and craving among addicts.

1997
Mass General researchers identify the first activity of the human immune system that appears to suppress replication of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The discovery, which may explain why some HIV-infected individuals remain healthy for many years, becomes the basis for trials of several approaches to stimulating the immune system to control HIV.

1996
A Mass General research team finds that low concentrations of the popular skin care ingredients alpha-hydroxy acids appear modestly effective in reducing symptoms of skin aging brought about by sun exposure and other environmental factors.

1996
Researchers in the Mass General Department of Molecular Biology identify and clone one of the first genes known to control aging in an animal.

1996
Mass General radiologists show that a new kind of CT scan is more effective at diagnosing appendicitis than traditional methods.

1995
Mass General researchers discover a gene associated with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease on chromosome 1 and contribute to discovery of another early-onset gene on chromosome 14.

1995
Mass General researchers discover gene causing Batten disease, a fatal, inherited nervous system disease affecting children.

1995
Mass General surgeons perform the first double-lobe, living-related lung transplant in New England.

1990s
Researchers at Mass General are among the first to investigate combination therapy treatment for AIDS, using "cocktails" of several anti-HIV drugs to suppress viral reproduction. The approach results in dramatic improvement in the health of people with AIDS.

1994
Mass General researchers show that daily injections of parathyroid hormone can prevent osteoporosis in women with medically induced menopause.

1993
Mass General researchers discover genes responsible for Huntington’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and neurofibromastosis Type 2 (NF2).

1993
Mass General surgeons are the first to use computerized brain images made by fusing information from both MRI and PET scans as a "road map" to guide an operation.

1993
Mass General physicians develop new approaches to treat invasive bladder cancer that preserves bladder function.

1993
Mass General surgeons perform the first heart-liver transplant in New England.

1991
Researchers at the Mass General NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) Center are the first to develop high-speed MRI scanning. A year later the technique is used for the first time to view brain metabolism without use of contrast agents or tracers.

1988
Mass General researchers develop laser treatment for removal of pigmented lesions and tattoos.

1987
Mass General researchers contribute to discovery of first gene associated with inherited, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

1983
Mass General researchers, using a pulsed dye laser, are the first to treat the congenital birthmarks called port wine stains without scarring.

1981
Vincent Memorial researchers develop a technique for reversing the premature onset of puberty in girls.

1981
Mass General, MIT and Shriners Burns Institute researchers create the first artificial skin made from living cells.

1980s
Mass General researchers make numerous key discoveries regarding AIDS and infection with HIV, including showing that the virus can infect the brain and nervous system and detection of HIV in female genital secretions.

1979
Mass General radiologists pioneer use of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to diagnose illness and injury.

1974
Mass General dermatologists introduce the field of photochemotherapy, which uses light and special medications to treat disorders such as psoriasis.

1970s
Mass General pioneers PET (positron emission tomography) scanning, which gives one of the first noninvasive looks at functional changes within the brain and other organs.

1969
Mass General cardiac surgeons collaborate in development of intra-aortic balloon catheter, the first commercially successful temporary aortic-assist device.

1968
Mass General pioneers telemedicine, the practice of medicine over closed-circuit television.

1964
Research completed at Mass General makes practical for the first time the long-term storage of human blood.

1962
Mass General surgeons accomplish the first successful reattachment of a severed human limb.

1960
Proton beam therapy is first used to treat tumors of the eye, neck and brain.

1945
Researcher at the Vincent Memorial Hospital, the gynecology service of Mass General, perfects use of Pap smear to detect cervical cancer.

1942
In treating patients from the Coconut Grove fire, Mass General physicians demonstrate efficacy of new approach to burn treatment and value of new blood bank and emergency plan.

1925
The first tumor clinic founded for the study of cancer.

1905
The first medical social service department in a hospital is established at Mass General.

1896
Mass General creates the first X-ray exposure in a U.S. just 30 days after the technique is discovered in Europe.

1886
A Mass General physician is the first to recognize the true nature of appendicitis. Information paves the way for proper diagnosis and treatment.

1846
The use of ether as an anesthetic is demonstrated at Mass General. Surgery performed without pain for the first time.