In 1905, Dr. Edward Hume, a young American sent by Yale-China Association, came to Changsha to conduct medical education and care. In 1906, he established Yali Hospital, one of the earliest western hospitals in China, in Xipailou Street, Changsha. In 1910, Dr. Yan Fuqing, another significant figure in China’s history of western medicine, returned to Changsha after graduating from Yale School of Medicine, and started working with Dr. Hume to run the Yali Hospital.

In 1913, Hunan Yuqun Association, with the support of Mr. Tan Yankai, governer of Hunan province at that time, on behalf of the Hunan provincial government, signed a collaborative agreement with the Yale-China Association, which led to the founding of Xiangya Medical College, China’s first medical education institution as a result of international cooperation. In 1915, a new hospital was built outside the north gate of Changsha city as the result of the incorporation of Yali Hospital and Xiangya Medical College. On Oct. 18th of the same year, Mr. Tan Yankai named the newly-built hospital “Xiangya Hospital”. The Red Building of Xiangya Hospital, integrating the beauty of the east and the west, was the best hospital architecture in central south China back then as well as a landmark of Changsha city.

Medical education, medical care and nursing training were integrated in this newly built Xiangya Hospital. The first ten students of Xiangya graduting in 1921, including Zhang Xiaoqian, Tang Feifan, etc., later all became experts and masters of modern medicine in China. In 1922, a US education delegation identified Xiangya and Peking Union Medical College (PUMC) as the best medical education institutions in China, and the reputation of “South Xiangya, North Union” has been widely known among the Chinese people.

During the war years (1937-1945), Xiangya staff cared for numerous calsualties and refugees. Since 1938, Xiangya had moved to Guiyang, Chongqing, Yuanling and other places around the country under the direction of President Zhang Xiaoqian, and didn’t come back to Changsha until 1945 when the war against the invading Japanese finally ended. However, all facilities in Changsha were damaged in 1942 under the Japanese bombing.

Despite the vicissitudes in China’s modern history, Xiangya people, with their devotion and commitment, were determined to rebuild the Changsha campus and resume their pre-war operations - medical care, education and research.

In Dec. 1951, Xiangya Hospital was handed over to the Chinese government. Chairman Mao Zedong introduced family members and friends to Xiangya many times and once wote in a letter: “If you couldn’t get cured at Xiangya Hospital, you couldn’t get cured at hospitals in Beijing either.”, which showed great confidence in Xiangya. Other Chinese national leaders including Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, etc. also met with and spoke highly of Xiangya medical staff.