From the Hippocratics to the genetic engineers of today,

the practitioners of medicine have been discovering,

amending and refining both their science and their art,

Here are some of history’s great contributors.

                  (It will take a book, a big book, to make up a list

                   like this for the next 2,397 years with everything

                   that’s on the medical horizon.)

circa 400 B.C.

Greek physician Hippocrates

founds a tradition of medicine

emphassing clinical observation

and ethics. Doctor, worldwide,

still take the Hippocratic Oath,

which embodies that tradition.

circa A.D. 170

Galen, a Greek physician in the

Roman Empire, uses pulse taking

as a diagnostic aid; his studies in

physiology and anatomy remain

widely influential until the 1500s


Roger Bacon, a British scientist

and philosopher, published a

treatise on how sight can be im-

proved by using eyeglasses, which

are already being worn in China

and Europe.


British physician William

Harvey publishes On the move-

ment of the Heart and Blood in

Animals, an accurate explain-

ation of how blood circulates in

the body.


British doctor Edward Jenner

administers the first effective

vaccination against smallpox;

within 30 years, his treatment

is practiced throughout the



U.S. dentist William Morton gives

the first demonstration of the

effective use of ether as an anesthetic;

the operation----for the removal of a

neck tumor—lasts 25 minutes.


British philanthropist Florence

Nightingale tends the wounded

during the Crimean War, apply-

ing revolutionary nursing practices;

she later established a model

school of nursing.


German pathologist Rudolf

Virchow publishes Cellular

Pathology, in which he does

elaborate on his discovery

that disease----and even life

itself—occurs at a cellular



French chemist and micro-

biologist Louis Pasteur publishes

his findings on how germs cause

disease, which he later uses to

develop the pasteurization process


Austrian botanist and monk

Gregor Mendel proposes basic

laws of heredity in Experiments

with Plant Hybrids, a statistical

analysis of his crossbreeding

work on pea plants


British surgeon Joseph Lister

reports his findings on how

potentially deadly infections

can be prevented by antiseptic

operating procedures and the

treatment of wounds.


German physicists Wilhelm

Roentgen discovers invisible

electromagnetic rays, which

he calls X-rays; they are used

to diagnostic images of the

structures within the body.


Felix Hoffman, a German

chemist, synthesizes a form

of acetylsalicylic acid that

enables mass production of

aspirin; it becomes the best-

selling drug for pain and in-



Austrian pathologist and

immunologist Karl Landsteiner

discovers the major blood

groups, A, B, and O, and works

out a blood-typing system that

allows safe transfusions.


German bacteriologist Paul

Ehrlich develops a cure for

syphilis by administering a

form of arsenic; the procedure

establishes modern chemotherapy

—the use of selectively toxic

drugs to treat disease


Canadian surgeon Fredrick

Banting and colleagues do

isolate insulin from the pancreas;

within a very few years, it is

commercially produced for the

insulin-deficient diabetics.


British bacteriologist Alexander

Fleming identifies the bacteria-

killing properties of penicillin,

the first safe, successful antibiotic;

in the 1940s, it is refined and widely

used to cure infectious diseases.


Greek-American pathologist

George Papanicolaou develops

the Pap smear test, making it

possible to detect cancer in the

female reproductive tract in its

early stages for the first time.


U. S. Surgeon Charles Drew

describes the long-term storage

properties of blood plasmas,

which often can be used in

place of whole blood to transfuse

wounded or burned patients.


Dutch physician William Kolff

develops the first artificial dialysis

machine to perform the kidneys’

blood-cleansing functions; it is

often used before or after a kidney



American biochemist and geneticist

James Watson and British biophysicist

Francis Crick decipher the structure of

DNA, the molecule that carries the

genetic code.


U. S. Biologist Gregory Pincus

reports on the first successful

trials of a birth-control pill,

which he developed at the urging

of social activist Margaret Sanger.


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