Roots of Innovation

When Dr. Donald Guthrie came to Sayre, PA, in 1910 from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, he brought with him a vision of novel medical care that set the stage for a culture of innovative medicine that has lasted more than a century at Guthrie. Dr. Guthrie encouraged a multi-specialty approach to investigating and treating illness in a collaborative manner whereby specialists and primary physicians would focus their knowledge and effort together around the patient. This heritage of integrated multi-specialty care is at the heart of Guthrie medicine in all of its facets. It is expressed through Clinical Research with every new answer to old medical challenges uncovered by carefully monitored studies.

Early Clinical Trials

Guthrie’s Clinical Research program was formally established as a centralized unit in July 1999. This was, however, merely the official consolidation of what had already been years of fertile clinical research activity.

With the support of Dr. Donald Guthrie and his wife’s uncle, Mr. Herbert Baker, the Donald Guthrie Foundation for Medical Research started in 1944. The Foundation’s support of medical research and its integration into medical treatments practiced at the Robert Packer Hospital and clinic drew some of the finest medical talent of the day to Guthrie including many gifted residents. When Professor and Mrs. Bretz of Cornell University — two very grateful patients — endowed the Foundation with a robust estate that was designated for research use, the Foundation attained the ability to pilot studies of such stature as to warrant application for funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Among the more notable studies performed at Guthrie are: Dr. Harry Probost’s work in sterilization technique; the Robert Packer Hospital Bacteriology Department’s studies proving the insufficiency of textile fabric to act as a protective barrier against body fluids and surgical liquids; work in prevention of surgical infection; and pulmonary hypertension research. Dr. William Sewell contributed a medical records system that encompassed evaluation, surgical documentation and follow-up with X-ray confirmation, a system readily accepted in the medical literature of the 1960s.

Before long, clinical research activity grew to such proportions as to require a dedicated facility. Today, Guthrie Clinical Research is located in the Foundation Building.