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    Medical Milestones
    Famous Physicians and Medical Scientists





    Famous Physicians and Medical Scientists

    Ancient World Physicians
    Imhotep (2650-2600 BC), ancient Egyptian polymath: considered to be the first physician in ancient world - he described diagnosis and treatment of many diseases.

    Hippocrates of Cos (460 - 370 BC), ancient Greek physician: introduced the Hippocratic Oath for physicians, which is still relevant and in use today.

    Galen of Pergamon (129 - 199), Roman-Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher: one of the greatest surgeons of the ancient world - among others, he performed brain and eye surgeries.

    Huangfu Mi (215–282), Chinese scholar and physician: compiled an influential collection of texts on acupuncture and moxibustion (Chinese medicine therapy using moxa, or mugwort herb) written in earlier periods.


    Middle Ages Physicians
    Rhazes (865 - 925), Persian polymath and physician: provided the first known description of smallpox.

    Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (980 - 1037), Persian polymath: his The Canon of Medicine is considered one of the most famous books in the history of medicine.

    Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) (1091–1161), Spanish Muslim physician and surgeon: was influential to the progress of surgery and improved surgical and medical knowledge describing several diseases and their treatments.

    Maimonides (Moses ben-Maimon / Rambam) (1135–1204), Jewish scholar, physician, and philosopher: suggested the necessity of preventative medicine and among others, advocated sober and clean lifestyle.

    Ibn al-Nafis (1213 - 1288), Arabic Muslim physician: the first to describe the pulmonary circulation of blood, but his work was probably unknown by physicians in the western world until the 20th century.

    Roger Bacon (1214–1294), English philosopher and scientist: wrote about convex lens spectacles for treating long-sightedness.


    Renaissance Physicians
    Gabriele Falloppio (1523 - 1562), Italian anatomists and physician: in his treatise on syphilis he advocated the use of condoms and initiated the first clinical trial of the device.

    Realdo Colombo (1516-1559), Italian professor of anatomy and surgeon: discovered the pulmonary circuit (passage of blood between the heart and the lungs) which paved the way for William Harvey's discovery of circulation system years later (see below).

    Andreas Vesalius (1514 - 1564), Flemish anatomist and physician: the author of one of the most influential books on human anatomy, De humani corporis fabrica (On the Structure of the Human Body).

    Ambroise Pare (1510 - 1590), French surgeon: was an innovator in surgical techniques and battlefield medicine, especially the treatment of wounds and invented several surgical instruments.

    William Harvey (1578 - 1657), English physician: the first complete description of the circulatory system.

    Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632 - 1723), Dutch tradesman and scientist: best known for his work on the improvement of the microscope and for his contributions towards the establishment of microbiology. Using his microscopes, he was the first to observe and describe micro-organisms, muscle fibers, bacteria and spermatozoa.

    Herman Boerhaave (1668 - 1738), Dutch physician: the first to isolate the chemical urea from urine.

    Pierre Fauchard (1678 - 1761), French physician: father of modern dentistry - best known for his book, Le chirurgien dentiste (The Surgeon Dentist) where he described the basic oral anatomy, signs and symptoms of oral pathology, operative methods for removing decay and restoring teeth, orthodontics, replacement of missing teeth, and tooth transplantation.


    Modern Physicians
    Edward Jenner (1749 - 1823), English surgeon: invented the smallpox vaccine.

    Rene Laennec (1781 - 1826), French physician: invented the stethoscope in 1816 and pioneered its use in diagnosing various chest conditions.

    William Morton (1819 - 1868), American dentist: first publicly demonstrated the use of inhaled ether as a dental surgical anesthetic in 1846.

    Claude Bernard (1813 - 1878), French physiologist: discovered the role of the pancreas in digestion and the glycogenic function of the liver which throws light on the causation of diabetes mellitus.

    Pierre Broca (1824 - 1880), French physician and anthropologist: revealed that the brains of patients suffering from aphasia (an impairment of language ability) contained lesions in a particular part of the cortex, in the left frontal region. This was the first anatomical proof of the localization of brain function.

    Jean-Martin Charcot (1825 - 1893), French neurologist: first to describe the degeneration of ligaments due to lack of use or control, now called Charcot's joint.

    Louis Pasteur (1822 - 1895), French chemist and microbiologist: created the first vaccine for rabies and anthrax.

    Rudolph Virchow (1821 - 1902), German pathologist and biologist: known for his advancement of public health.

    Robert Koch * (1843 - 1910), German physician: discovered the transmission of disease by bacteria.

    Florence Nightingale (1820 - 1910), English nurse: pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War.

    Joseph Lister (1827 - 1912), British surgeon: pioneered antiseptic surgery.

    Paul Ehrlich * (1854 - 1915), German hematologist, immunologist, and chemotherapist: noted for curing syphilis (a sexually transmitted infection) and for coining the term chemotherapy.

    Aloysius Alzheimer (1864 - 1915), German psychiatrist and neuropathologist: identifies the first case of what becomes known as Alzheimer's disease

    William Oslert (1849 - 1919), Canadian physician: one of the four founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital.

    Wilhelm Rontgen * (1845 - 1923), German physicist: produced and detected X-rays (Rontgen rays) in 1895, an achievement that earned him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.

    Willem Einthoven * (1860 - 1927), Dutch doctor and physiologist: invented the first practical electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) in 1903.

    William Williams Keen (1837 - 1932), American: the first brain surgeon in the United States

    William Coley (1862 - 1936), American bone surgeon and cancer researcher: pioneer of cancer immunotherapy. He developed a treatment based on provoking an immune response to bacteria.

    Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), Austrian neurologist: the originator of the psychoanalysis therapeutic theory.

    Harvey Williams Cushing (1869 - 1939), American neurosurgeon: the first to describe Cushing's syndrome (a hormone disorder caused by high levels of the steroid hormone cortisol in the blood).

    Frederick Banting * (1891- 1941), Canadian medical scientist: one of the main discoverers of insulin (with Nicolae Paulescu, Charles Best, John Macleod * and James Collip). Although Nicolae Paulescu, a Romanian professor of physiology, was the first to isolate insulin in 1916 (a few months before Banting) he did not share the Nobel Prize with Banting maybe because his work was not well known, at that time, outside Romania.

    Karl Landsteiner * (1868 - 1943), Austrian-American biologist and physician: noted for having first distinguished the main blood groups in 1900 thus enabling physicians to transfuse blood without endangering the patient′s life.

    Alexandre Yersin (1863 - 1943), Swiss-French physician and bacteriologist: the co-discoverer (with Kitasato Shibasaburo) of the bacillus (rod-shaped bacteria) responsible for bubonic plague.

    Alexander Fleming * (1881 - 1955), Scottish biologist and pharmacologist: the discovery of the antibiotic penicillin in 1928.

    Otto Loewi * (1873 - 1961), German-American pharmacologist: whose discovery of acetylcholine (neurotransmitter) helped enhance medical therapy.

    Howard Florey * (1898 - 1968), Australian pharmacologist and pathologist: shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Ernst Chain * and Alexander Fleming * for the development of penicillin for use as a medicine.

    Frank Burnet * (1899 - 1985), Australian virologist: demonstrated acquired immune tolerance and developed the theory of clonal selection (a model that explains how the immune system responds to infection).

    Salvador Luria * (1912 - 1991), Italian microbiologist: pioneering work with Max Delbrück * and Alfred Hershey * on phages (viruses that infect bacteria - instrumental in phage therapy).

    Jonas Salk (1914 - 1995), American virologist: the discovery of the first safe and effective polio vaccine.

    Gertrude Elion * (1918 - 1999), American biochemist: developed the AIDS drug AZT.

    James D. Watson * (1928 - ), Francis Crick * (1916 – 2004), Maurice Wilkins * (1916 – 2004) and Rosalind Franklin (1920 – 1958): discovery of the double helical structure of DNA in 1953.
    Christiaan Barnard (1922 - 2001), South African cardiac surgeon: performed the world's first successful human-to-human heart transplant.

    Thomas Starzl (1926 - ), American physician and researcher: performed the first human liver transplants.

    Raymond Vahan Damadian (1936 - ), Armenian-American medical practitioner and inventor: builds the first commercial MRI scanner.

    * Nobel laureates

    More Medicine Biographies
    People and Discoveries: Medicine and Health - PBS
    Blood History Timeline - PBS
    Medical Scientists - Fact Monster
    Medicine Through Time - Historyworld
    Discover Scientist's Biographies - Partnership for Environmental and Rural Health Education (PEER)
    Medical Scientists - Cartage
    Health and Medicine Timeline - Helicon Publishing
    Profiles in Science - National Library of Medicine
    The Lasker Foundation - Medical Research Awards
    Biographies of the Co-Discoverers of Insulin - University of Toronto Library
    Founders of Neurology - UIC Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation
    People and Professions: Physicians - picturehistory.com

    Related Subjects
    Medicine Resources
    Human Anatomy Resources



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