The foundation of the first pediatric hospital on the University campus in 1927, coincided closely with the formation of the Department of Pediatrics in 1930. The Bobs Roberts Memorial Hospital, memorialized the life of Charles Radner Robert ('Bobs') Roberts, the 5-year-old son of a prominent Chicago family who died of a streptococcal infection. Over the subsequent 35 years, faculty of the Department established a national reputation for outstanding patient care and rigorous investigation consistent with the culture and vision for the broader University. In 1957, Albert Dorfman, the third Department Chair, initiated a formal affiliation with La Rabida Children’s Hospital with the goal of providing comprehensive care for children with complex disease with a particular focus on neurodevelopmental defects, a unique venture at that time, and typical of the innovation at the University of Chicago across generations.
With increasing need for, and sophistication of pediatrics care, the University of Chicago Hospitals, partnered with the University to establish a second expanded facility in 1967. Wyler Children's Hospital, endowed by Arma and Silvain Wyler, was the first children's hospital on the Southside of Chicago to provide comprehensive care to all children regardless of ethnicity or socio-economic status. Some of the many signal achievements include the first level IV neonatal intensive care unit on the Southside, the identification of the biochemical basis of Hurler syndrome, and the first pediatric bone marrow transplant in the region.
In 2003, the current hospital, University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital opened. Endowed by the generosity of Gary Comer, a Southside native and entrepreneur who founded the Lands’ End retail corporation, it was conceived by Herb Abelson, the visionary 6th chair of the Department, to provide comprehensive pediatrics care and be the principal site for the delivery of care, training and research of the faculty in the Department of Pediatrics.
Frederic W. Schlutz, MD, served as the first chair of the Department of Pediatrics (1930-1944) and was recognized internationally for his scholarship.
F. Howell Wright, MD, the second chair of the Department of Pediatrics (1946-1962), was a nationally recognized educator and scientist. His tenure saw the establishment of pre-eminent programs in child neurology, cardiology, hematology, endocrinology, metabolism, infectious diseases and neonatology
Albert Dorfman, MD PhD, the third chair of the Department (1962-1973), enhanced the scholarship of the Department, describing the biochemical basis of Hurler Syndrome and connective tissue diseases, and describing critical aspects of rheumatic fever and systemic lupus erythematosus. He also led the first extramural affiliation for the Department, with the foundation of the La Rabida Children’s Hospital Institute.