Sapporo Medical University began life as The Hokkaidō Women's Medical College in 1945. As part of the development of Hokkaidō, The Sapporo Medical University was then established in 1950, along with the School of Medicine and then the Graduate School of Medicine in 1950.
The university is state funded and is located in Chūō-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaidō, Japan, with around 1,000 students.
In 1969, one of the pioneers of heart surgery, Juro Wada, performed the first ever heart transplant in Japan however it was later disputed because the donor was purportedly still alive and with a functioning brain.
The Sapporo Medical University has an affiliated hospital, called Sapporo Medical University Hospital, which has facilities in 26 clinical divisions, 938 inpatient beds and has performed many organ transplants. Within it is the Biomedical Research Centre, the Marine Biological Institute, Biomedical Centre and Animal Research Centre. It also shares several laboratories with Hokkaidō University and Otaru University of Commerce.
Notable former students include politician Hishashi Kazama and Junichi Watanabe, novelist and winner of the Naoki Prize.
It has a decorative oval emblem, which includes a seven-pointed star, the symbol of Hokkaido, with wings to imply development and progress, and oak leaves to represent wisdom and simplicity. The serpent and cane is the staff of Aesculapius, an ancient medical symbol.
Chūō-ku is one of the 10 wards in Sapporo and Sapporo is the fifth largest city of Japan by population and the largest city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. It is the capital city of Hokkaido Prefecture and holds the annual Sapporo Snow Festival, which draws more than 2 million tourists from abroad.