SUNY Upstate traces its origins to 1834 with the opening of one of the nation's first medical schools in Geneva, NY. Syracuse University took over the Geneva Medical College in 1871 and renamed it the College of Medicine at Syracuse University. In 1896, the College built its first science building, the first such facility in the nation to house a physiology laboratory. In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of what is now Weiskotten Hall, the main biomedical sciences building and the home of the College of Graduate Studies.
The graduate studies program began in 1947 when the College first offered master's and PhD degrees in Biochemistry. PhD degree programs in the other basic sciences continued to be added, the most recent program being the PhD in Neuroscience which began in 1995. In 1950, the State University of New York (SUNY) bought the College of Medicine from Syracuse University and soon after named the new institution the SUNY Upstate Medical Center. The College of Graduate Studies opened in 1957.
After a name change to SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse in the mid-1980s, the institution returned to the familiar name Upstate, but emphasizing its university structure, to become SUNY Upstate Medical University in 2000.
The first decade of the 21st century has been one of growth: the opening of the Institute for Human Performance for basic and clinical research; the East Tower expansion of University Hospital that houses the Golisano Children's Hospital and other clinical specialties; two new, 1,500-car parking garages; a renovated gross anatomy lab; The Setnor Academic Building with a unique clinical skills center; and building the Central New York Biotech Research Center. These and other capital improvements benefit students and faculty in SUNY Upstate's four colleges: Graduate Studies, Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions.