Research Landmarks

Translational research, or applying basic discoveries to transform therapeutics and diagnostics that directly impact patient care, is a driving force behind the work at Georgetown University Medical Center. Georgetown researchers have made significant contributions to the advancement of science and health care.

1952: Artificial Heart Valve

Charles Hufnagel, MD, professor of experimental surgery, developed the artificial heart valve in 1952 and performed the first artificial valve implantation surgery the following year.

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Margaret Dayhoff

1950s-’60s: Single-Letter Code for Amino Acids

The single-letter code for amino acids is one of the most widely used codes in biology and the field of bioinformatics. Working in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics at GUMC, Margaret Dayhoff, PhD, created the single-letter code and pioneered the field of bioinformatics.

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Alfred Luessenhop

1960s: Inception of Intravascular Surgery

Alfred Luessenhop, MD, former chief of neurosurgery, and William Spence, MD, a neurosurgeon at Georgetown developed a technique that used a plastic pellet to reduce the potentially fatal flow of blood from an enlarged artery, creating the field of intravascular surgery.

Dr. Ledley leans against his scanner

1973: Full-Body Scanner

Robert Ledley, DDS, developed the full-body scanner, the first computer assisted tomography (CAT) scanner for any part of the body. It had a revolutionary impact on diagnostic medicine.

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Robert Ledley with the analyzer

1970s: Automatic Genetic Analyzer

The automatic genetic analyzer, also developed by Robert Ledley, DDS, used a robot arm to automate the process of detecting genetic defects on a molecular level.

a visualization of a folded protein

1978: Protein Information Resource

The Protein Information Resource, developed by Margaret Dayhoff, PhD, is the first of only three global banks for genetic and protein sequences and structures.

Diagram of an Allegra molecule

1990s: Allegra ®

Raymond Woosley, MD, PhD, former chair of the Department of Pharmacology, developed the antihistamine Allegra ®.

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Richard Verrier, PhD, and Bruce Nearing, PhD

1990s: T-Wave Alternans Test

Richard Verrier, PhD, former professor of pharmacology, and colleague, Bruce Nearing, PhD, invented the T-Wave Alternans Test, a dynamic, non-invasive method to track and diagnose T- wave alternans, which are periodic variations between heartbeats that can put a patient at risk for fatal arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

Illustration of a uterus, uterine cancer ribbon, microscope and magnifying glass with the words HPV human papillomavirus

1990s: First Diagnostic Test for HPV

Microbiologist Wayne Lancaster, PhD, (pictured) and pathologist Alfred Bennett Jensen, MD, developed the first diagnostic test for HPV, which when administered during a routine Pap test significantly increases the cervical cancer detection rate and, as a result, has reduced death rates from this disease.

The four inventors of Gardasil

1990s-2000s: Gardisil

The first “cancer vaccine” in the world, Gardisil, was developed based on research by Richard Schlegel, MD, PhD, with Shin-je Ghim, PhD, and Alfred Bennett Jensen, MD, at Georgetown.

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Richard Schlegel

2000-2010s: Conditional Reprogramming

Conditional Reprogramming, developed by Richard Schlegel, MD, PhD, is an innovative technology dubbed the “Georgetown Method.” It allows scientists to grow normal and neoplastic epithelial cells in a completely new way.

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