As the years progressed, new Chairs and centres of research were established to meet the changing needs of medical education and clinical services, including Clinical Chemistry, Pharmacology, Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, Anaesthetics, Cancer Studies, Neuropathology, Virology, Human Genetics, Therapeutics and Clinical Pharmacology, and subsequently Cardiovascular Medicine, Rheumatology and Geriatrics. The Medical School now under the leadership of Sir Arthur Thomson (or "AP" as he was known), Dean from 1950-1959, with the support of another clinician turned administrator, Sir Robert Aitken as Vice-Chancellor, continued to advance its reputation and become a world leader in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and medical research. It was in this period that some major clinical developments were achieved, including the work on variable rate heart pacemakers by Leon Abrams and Ray Lightwood, and also in thoracic surgery, as a result of work undertaken by Professor John Leigh Collins, who created the 'Collis esophageal procedure'.
Major changes from the end of the 1950s and the 60s to the end of the century include the opening of the Barnes Library in 1959, the transfer of the Dental School and Hospital to a new building adjacent to the General Hospital in 1965, and the opening of the Medical School’s West Wing in 1969 to provide a large lecture theatre that could accommodate all the pre-clinical students and much needed accommodation for the Department of Pathological Studies.
In 1973, the Medical School saw the opening of the Wolfson Centre, followed in 1982 by the Clinical Teaching Block at the General Hospital, which was closed on 30 October 1995 in order for the building to become the Children’s Hospital in 1998 on its move from Ladywood Road; the building soon became occupied by the Institute for Child Health. The period also saw the controversial collaboration of the Medical School in developing the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine at the University of Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) including during the post UDI period. This time also saw the expansion of undergraduate teaching to Dudley Road (now City) Hospital.
In the 1980s, the Medical School boasted no less than four Presidents of Royal Colleges, all holding office simultaneously: Sir Geoffrey Slaney (Surgeons) (picture above left), Sir Michael Drury (General Practitioners), Sir Raymond (Bill) Hoffenberg (Physicians) (pictured above centre) and Bob Curran (Pathologists) (pictured above right), a record unlikely to be equalled again anywhere.
Student numbers increased dramatically over these years, with the introduction of the Bachelor of Medical Science degree, both for three years and intercalated, along with a number of new postgraduate programmes. In 1966, the title of the Faculty was changed to the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, in recognition of the growing size and importance of the Dental School; two of its Professors had or were to become in their time Vice-Chancellors of the University: Humphrey Humphreys and Edward Marsland. When faculties were abolished in 1997, the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences (the latter bringing together nursing and physiotherapy) were created, but still kept their links through teaching and research.
In the last twenty-five years, the medical community in the city, led by the Medical School, continued as a world leader in research, continually making major discoveries in the biomedical and clinical fields. These include the development of advanced allergy vaccines, the synthesis of artificial blood, the first trials of the contraceptive pill outside the USA, the early work by A. D. Barnes on renal transplantation and at the Accident Hospital, the revolution of intravenous drips for burn victims. In 1979, the new Department of Haematology was opened, made possible by a major grant from the Leukaemia Research Fund and, in the following year, a ten-year study into natural history of 'early' gastric cancer was completed. The 1980s saw researchers in the Medical School take on board the ethnic diversity of Birmingham and the West Midlands, which contributed to better understanding of health care of Afro-Caribbean and Asian populations. Important studies included those on the increase of malaria in the region, acute myocardial infarction in the Asian population in Birmingham and studies of sickle-cell anaemia amongst Afro-Caribbean infants.
Also in the 1980s, important studies were carried out at the Birmingham Children's Hospital by the Birmingham Reflux Study Group, into non-operative versus operative treatment of severe vesicoureteric reflux in children. One of the great milestones in the history of the Medical School was in 1982 with the opening of the Institute for Occupational Health, making the University of Birmingham a leader in this field in the country and internationally. Over the past decade, the Liver Research Laboratories at the Queen Elizabeth and Children’s hospitals have been going from strength to strength, developing the 'split liver' technique to enable one liver to be transplanted to both an adult and a child. In addition, important work has been carried out into the chronic rejection of transplanted livers, with the future aim of eradicating this major problem. More recent research in 2001 includes the development of the world's first male fertility home test by the Department of Reproductive Medicine (in conjunction with the company Genosis), and the UK's first clinical trial of gene therapy for prostate cancer by the CRC Institute for Cancer Studies.
After her retirement as Director of the Nuffield Institute of Social Medicine in the University of Oxford, the Medical School gave a home an academic refuge (and a long-overdue professorship) to the renowned epidemiologist Dr Alice Stewart, (pictured left) who achieved world-wide fame, in which she demonstrated that workplace exposure to radiation was twenty times more dangerous than the then safety standards permitted, after discovering the link between foetal x-rays and childhood cancer. Awarded the Right Livelihood Award (the so-called ‘alternative’ Nobel Prize) in 1986, and the first woman member of the Association of Physicians, Stewart was invited to become the first chair of the European Committee on Radiation Risk in 1997. Unloved by the establishment, she retired again in 2000 at the age of 93 undaunted.