In August 1977, the East Carolina University School of Medicine opened its doors to the first class of four-year students. The preparation for the arrival of those first 28 students covered a 13-year period of dedicated service by East Carolina University officials, the ECU Board of Trustees, community physicians, and state legislators. Their goal was to expand the opportunities for medical education in the state and improve the quantity and quality of primary care physicians serving North Carolina residents. In 1965, the North Carolina General Assembly authorized East Carolina College to establish a School of Medicine and provided planning funds for its development. In 1967, when the legislature awarded university status to ECU, it also received continued authorization to plan, develop and implement a medical curriculum. The 1969 General Assembly appropriated additional planning and development funds. Core faculty and administrative personnel were recruited to complete the first stage of development of the school.
In 1971, upon the recommendation of Governor Robert W. Scott and the State Board of Higher Education, the General Assembly appropriated operating funds to allow the enrollment of the first students into a one-year program. In the fall of 1972, 20 students were enrolled, followed by two more classes of 20 students each in 1973 and 1974. These 60 students, all North Carolinians, successfully completed the one-year program at East Carolina and transferred to the sophomore class of the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In 1975, upon recommendation of the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina system, the General Assembly appropriated $43 million for initial construction of facilities and implementation of a new four-year medical school at East Carolina University. In April 1977, the School of Medicine received provisional accreditation and authorization to admit its charter class of 28 students in the fall of that year. The School of Medicine received full accreditation in February 1981, and three months later the charter class graduated. Class sizes rose, and from 1986 to 2006, each freshman class had 72 students. The 2009 incoming class increased to 78 students and in 2012 the entering class was 80 students.
Residency programs were accredited in 1977 for family medicine; in 1978 for psychiatric medicine, medicine, pediatrics, surgery, and obstetrics and gynecology; in 1982 for emergency medicine; in 1985 for anatomic and clinical pathology; and in 1991 for physical medicine and rehabilitation. Programs leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in anatomy and cell biology, biochemistry, microbiology and immunology, pharmacology, and physiology were initiated in 1979. A doctoral program in pathology was added in 1987. The first Doctor of Philosophy degree conferred by East Carolina University was awarded through the medical school in 1983.
In 1999, the School of Medicine was named for the Brody family in recognition of its continuous support for more than 30 years.