History of the LUMC

St. Caecilia GasthuisThe LUMC has a long history. In 1575 William of Orange donated a university to Leiden, the first university in the Northern Netherlands. It is assumed that he chose Leiden, because this town had withstood a long siege by the Spanish a year earlier. The university started with three faculties: Law, Theology, and Medicine. The first and then only professor in Medicine participated in the parade: Geraert de Bondt (Bontius).

Lectures at the bedside

The Faculty of Medicine also included Anatomy and Botany. The professors had at their disposal for lectures and research an anatomical theatre and a botanical garden (hortus botanicus). In 1636 a number of beds in the Caecilia Gasthuis (nowadays the Boerhaave Museum) were added, where lectures were given. Thus the first teaching hospital came into being. In the early 18th century, the internationally famous Herman Boerhaave gave lectures at the bedside.

Theatrum Anatomicum

Patients and professors moved to larger and better equipped premises several times, and in 1873 the first teaching hospital that had been built as such opened its doors at Steenstraat (nowadays the Museum for Cultural Anthropology). The building had been set up on the basis of nursing practice and operation techniques of that time, but after the completion of the building, very soon it was found to be inconvenient and medically irresponsible. More laboratory space was needed as well as safer and more comfortable conditions for patients and personnel. A new hospital at Rijnsburgerweg had to meet these needs.

The new hospital was to be built as pavilions, a concept with which it was hoped to prevent cross-contamination among patients. Due to World War I and the lack of funds, building of the complex did not start until the 1920s. At that time, the pavilion system had already started to become obsolete. Nowadays only the gate is still standing.

In addition the faculty buildings for Anatomy, Pathology and Physiology from the 1930s and 1940s are still there. These are used by the university, as well as the building of the Faculty of Social Studies built in the 1960s as outpatients’ clinic for Internal Medicine. Finally, in the 1980s and 1990s, all clinical departments were gradually moved to the new building, which is the current Building 1 of the LUMC.

20th century

Medicine developed and changed drastically in the 20th century. More and more sophisticated specialisations and more extensive medical possibilities required more laboratories. After World War II, biomedical research became a more and more important task of the Leiden Faculty of Medicine with the programme Biomedical Sciences as a result. Highly technological patient care has replaced hospitalisation for weeks or months.

The many years’ cooperation between university and teaching hospital was given form in 1996. Hospital and faculty merged into the LUMC (Leiden University Medical Centre) including patient care, research, training, Med School, in-service and refresher training. With the opening of two new buildings (for research and training) on 1 December 2006, a fervent wish became reality: all core tasks combined in one place. The various buildings are interconnected by footbridges and tunnels, which symbolise the amalgamation of these core tasks.