Tashilunpo Monastery has traditionally been the seat of the Panchen Lama, the second most important reincarnation line in the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism behind the Dalai Lama. In the mid-20th century, inspired by the example of the Mentsikhang (Institute of Medicine and Astrology) in Lhasa, the Tenth Panchen Lama inaugurated a school dedicated to Tibetan medicine. However, the school existed for not even ten years before it closed during the political events following the Chinese annexation of Tibet.
The practice of Tibetan medicine began again in the 1980s and 1990s with the help of the Swiss Red Cross Foundation, who were invited by the Panchen Lama to be the first international organization working in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. In the early 1980s a hospital reopened at Tashilunpo Monastery. Although initially only Western medicines were available, one of the doctors still had some Tibetan medical knowledge and in the early 1990s the clinic began to reintroduce Tibetan medicine.