Skip to Main Content


Connect with CMS

Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science is a five-college health sciences university that was originally built around the Chicago Medical School (CMS), which has been educating physicians and furthering biomedical research for more than 100 years. Established in 1912, CMS physician and citizen founders aimed to build a combined medical school and hospital in which employed men and women could study medicine at night, a common practice at the time. Many of Chicago's finest medical teachers and practitioners who had been associated with Jenner Medical School transferred to CMS when Jenner closed in 1917.

William Dorland, editor of the well-known medical dictionary, was dean of the school for a time. The school's most note-worthy period of development took place under the direction of John J. Sheinin, MD, PhD, DSc, who served as dean and president from 1932 to 1966. The school successfully met the challenges arising from the revolutionary restructuring of American medical education following the Flexner Report. In 1930, the school moved to what was to become one of the world's largest aggregations of medical facilities. Located just west of downtown Chicago, this complex contained three medical schools, seven hospitals, colleges of dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, and two undergraduate universities. CMS occupied an eleven-story facility in a renowned research and educational center.

In 1967, the University of Health Sciences was established. The university comprised the Chicago Medical School, the School of Related Health Sciences (now named the College of Health Professions), and the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. In 1980, the university relocated to its current campus in North Chicago, Illinois, adjacent to the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center. The new campus included the university’s Basic Sciences Building, a 400,000-square-foot facility that houses a 52,000-square-foot Boxer Library and the Daniel Solomon, MD, and Mary Ann Solomon Learning Resource Center, as well as administrative offices, classrooms, auditoriums, basic science departments, research and teaching laboratories, and dining areas. The Heather Margaret Bligh Cancer Research Laboratory, a cancer immunology research and treatment complex, is located on the north end of the Basic Sciences Building.

The university, granted full accreditation by the North Central Association in 1980, represented one of the first educational institutions in the country devoted exclusively to educating men and women for a broad range of professional careers in health care and research. In 2001, the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine (established in 1912) became part of the university structure. In January 2004, the university publicly announced its intent to change its name to Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, in honor of Rosalind Franklin, PhD, a pioneer in the field of DNA research. The name change became legal on March 1, 2004, at which time the School of Related Health Sciences also changed its name to the College of Health Professions.

In addition to the name change and the announcement of several new strategic initiatives, the university was experiencing profound growth. In October 2002, the university opened its Health Sciences Building, a 140,000-square-foot facility that houses laboratories, auditoriums, classrooms, departmental offices, a student union, the Feet First Museum, University Bookstore, recreational game room, exercise facility, and a café. The university became a residential campus for the first time in its history when three student housing facilities, totaling 180 apartments, opened in July 2003.

From 2004 to 2009, the university has significantly and steadily expanded its student base and set record enrollment growth, from 1,664 students to 1,940 — a 16 percent increase in the student population. By strengthening its research enterprise and attracting pre-eminent scientists, the institution now provides greater access to leading-edge research opportunities. This growth will continue to be fueled by the increased interest in the programs in the College of Health Professions and the new College of Pharmacy.

In 2010, the university broke ground on the 23,000-square-foot Interprofessional Education Center which offers additional small group learning classrooms, laboratories, clinical simulation spaces, and an amphitheatre. It is the home of the College of Pharmacy, which welcomed its inaugural freshman class in fall 2011.

The Rothstein Warden Centennial Learning Center opened in October of 2013. The 73,000-squarefoot, three-story building is named in recognition of former Board of Trustees chair Mrs. Ruth Rothstein and current chair Dr. Gail Warden, for their steadfast support of the institution. The building includes office space to consolidate the CMS clinical departments, educational space, a wellness center, an expanded food services operation and student common areas. Nearly 75% of the educational space is dedicated to foster collaborative learning and enhances interactions between faculty and students.

The university's most recent campus expansion, the first structure of a planned three-building Innovation and Research Park (IRP), is slated to open in early 2020, providing a collaborative and supportive environment for scientific discovery. The IRP will consist of 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art research, office and meeting space that will ultimately house 175 scientists, including investigators in industries collaborating with the university. The building will encompass six disease- and platform-focused research centers and the Helix 51 Incubator. The remaining space will be offered for occupancy to life science companies.

Dr. Rosalind Franklin, through her pioneering work in the science of DNA and through her unflagging perseverance, serves as a role model for our faculty and students, and represents the future of biomedical science and integrated health care. Her history mirrors our own in many profound ways, marked by dedication to discovery even in the midst of difficult times. Upon that history, her legacy guides the future of the university itself.