Achievements for the Ages

As a research university, Case Western Reserve expects its faculty to excel as teachers, scholars and researchers, expanding the body of knowledge in their fields. There is a distinguished tradition of this activity here. Some examples include:

  • Discovery of iron ore in Michigan in about 1850 by Professor John Lang Cassels of the Medical Department, which led to the development of this region's very successful steel industry;
  • Michelson-Morley Experiment in 1887 by physicist Albert Michelson and chemist Edward Morley (see university history). Michelson was the first American scientist to win the Nobel Prize and Morley is also revered for discovering the atomic weights of oxygen and hydrogen;
  • First full X-ray of the human body (his own), by physicist Dayton Miller in 1896. Miller was a prominent scientist in other fields as well, including acoustics;
  • First modern blood transfusion using a cannula to join blood vessels, in 1905, by surgeon George Crile, who later was one of the founders of The Cleveland Clinic Foundation;
  • First environmental analysis of Lake Erie's drinking water, in about 1906, by chemist and chemical engineer Albert Smith, who also served as a mentor to such students as Herbert H. Dow, founder of the Dow Chemical Company, and to Smith's own sons, founders of the Lubrizol Corporation;
  • Development of the process for chlorinating drinking water, in 1912, by Professor Roger Perkins of the School of Medicine. This discovery was an important step in eradicating the source of typhoid bacilli;
  • First simulated milk formula for infants, by alumnus and pediatrics professor Henry Gerstenberger in 1915;
  • Discovery of the cause of ptomaine food poisoning and development of an antiserum against similar poisons formed by colon bacilli, in 1927, by immunologist Enrique Ecker and colleagues;
  • Several cardiac "firsts" from Professor Claude Beck, the nation's first professor of cardiovascular surgery, including the first removal of a heart tumor (1934), first surgical treatment of coronary artery disease (1935), first successful defibrillation of the human heart (1947), first course in CPR (1950) and first successful reversal of an otherwise fatal heart attack (1955);
  • Revolutionary discoveries in biochemistry by Professor Harland Wood in 1946, leading to greater understanding of living tissues in humans and animals;
  • Design and construction of the WRU Searching Selector, by Professor James Perry in 1955. The device used electromagnetic circuitry and could be programmed to search library databases for answers to questions;
  • Development of the first heart-lung machine for use during open-heart surgery, by Professor Frederick Cross in the 1950s;
  • Launch of two key management disciplines: operations research, in 1953, led by Professors C. West Churchman, Russell Ackoff and Robert Rinehart; and organizational behavior, in 1964, led by several faculty in the Division of Organizational Sciences;
  • First successful genetic alteration of human cells in a test tube, by Professor Austin Weisberger in 1961. His achievement demonstrated how living cells can be manipulated with DNA from other cells;
  • Discovery of "Lucy," at the time the earliest known hominid ancestor of present-day man, in 1973, by anthropologist Donald Johanson during his work in Ethiopia;
  • Development of a noninvasive test of infant intelligence that is used in early detection of learning difficulties, by psychologist Joseph Fagan in 1987;
  • Discovery of the gene for osteoarthritis, in 1990 by a national team led by rheumatologist Roland Moskowitz;
  • Creation of the first artificial human chromosome, in 1997 by a team from the Department of Genetics led by Professor Huntington Willard. The discovery represents a powerful new tool for the study of human genetics and a technical achievement in the quest to cure genetic diseases;
  • Receipt of a patent based on the research of biologists Arnold Caplan, a professor of biology, and Michael Sorrell, a senior research associate, after the duo developed a process of growing human skin equivalents in cultures in the laboratory. The technology holds medical and commercial potential in the regeneration of skin for medical uses and for testing new skin care products;
  • Partnership with the Ashlawn Group, LLC, of Alexandria, Virginia, beginning in late 2003, to develop two sizes of fuel cells that will double the shelf life of the U.S. Department of Defense "smart" munitions. The School of Engineering developed the technology that allows very small fuel cells to be built and to deliver long-range power needed to operate these munitions. These fuel cells are the size of D and AA batteries and can deliver more energy per volume and weight than batteries;
  • The School of Law's Frederick K. Cox International Law Center in 2004 launched its new War Crimes Research Portal to provide easier access to information on the Internet about humanitarian and war-crime trials;
  • The university's technology transfer program, which began in 2001, has helped bring about growth in all major measures of technology transfer success. As of 2012, licensing fees have generated over $112 million in revenue, over 1700 invention disclosures have been filed, 304 licensing transactions have taken place and 12 startup companies have been launched.

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