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The Big Picture at Today's Pitt

Pitt and UPMC Power the Health Care Economy


In 1972, when Thomas Detre told his Yale University colleagues he was giving up his tenured professorship for a job at Pitt, they scoffed, “Nobody goes to Pittsburgh. Planes don’t even land there.”

As recounted by Mary Brignano in Beyond the Bounds, her newly published history of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), the courtly but iron-willed Hungarian-born Detre assured the scoffers, “Once we get there, the planes will land.”

They’ve been landing ever since, bringing talented professors and clinicians who have helped to transform Pitt and UPMC collectively into the region’s most potent scientific and economic engine—the fulfillment of Detre’s original vision of a new health care model, “a center of excellence which would be focused on clinical research.”

UPMC has emerged as one of the nation’s leading academic health care systems as well as a global health enterprise. Pitt is a leading institution for health sciences research and education as measured by funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the benchmark of overall stature among research-intensive academic health centers. Since 1997, Pitt has ranked in the top 10 among universities in both total NIH funding and number of NIH grants received.