Key Figures in Medicine Unit

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Hippocrates

Born: 460 BC

Nationality: Greek

Contribution to Medicine: Hippocrates is credited with being the first person to believe that diseases were caused naturally, he was also the first person to document his findings when treating patients. Hippocrates also looked into a patient’s family history and environment before coming to a decision about the diagnosis, not many doctors at the time did this. As well as this he also wrote the hippocratic oath which is still taken by doctors today.

Died: 377 BC

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Galen

Born: September 129 AD

Nationality: Roman

Contribution to Medicine: Galen developed the theory of the 4 humours (the theory that illness is caused by an imbalance of the bodies main fluids: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile.) Galen also performed dissections on dead pigs to attempt to discover more about how the human body worked. He discovered many things most of which were accurate but not all because he used pigs not humans (dissection of human bodies was banned at the time)

Died: Unsure (between 199 AD and 216 AD)

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Vesalius

Born: 31 December 1514

Nationality: Dutch

Contribution to Medicine: Vesalius was the author of one of the most important books about human anatomy, De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On The Fabric Of The Human Body) and because of this he is often referred to as the pioneer of modern human anatomy.  He had a skilled artist do drawings of the bodies he cut up so that his book could have anatomical correct illustrations for his book.

Died: 15 October 1564

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Harvey

Born: 1 April 1578

Nationality: British

Contribution to Medicine: Harvey was the first person to completely describe the circulation of blood around the body and the properties of that blood.  He was also court physician to James 1 and Charles 1. The William Harvey hospital in Ashford is named after him.

Died: 3 June 1657

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Pasteur

Born: December 27, 1822

Nationality: French 

Contribution to Medicine: Fleming discovered the existence of germs and linked them to how disease occurs. He also created the first vaccines for Rabies and Anthrax, but today he is probably most well known for pioneering pasteurisation, which stops milk and wine from going off so quickly.

Died: September 28, 1895

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Jenner

Born: 17 May 1749

Nationality: British

Contribution to Medicine: Jenner created the first ever vaccine, which was against small pox. His discovered that milkmaids were infected with a weak version of smallpox called cowpox and that the milkmaids were immune to smallpox because of this; he used this knowledge to pioneer the vaccine. His work is said to have: "saved more lives than the work of any other man".

Died: 26 January 1823

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Simpson

Born: 7 June 1811

Nationality: British

Contribution to Medicine: Simpson was the first person to discover that chloroform has anaesthetic properties; he discovered this by accident when he was sniffing several substances with his friends recreationally! He also improved the design of the obstetric forceps, which are used to assist in childbirth. 

Died: 6 May 1870

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Nightingale

Born: 12 May 1820

Nationality: British

Contribution to Medicine: Nightingale is most well known for her contributions to nursing during the Crimean War, she improved the conditions of the front line hospitals. She was known as the Lady with the Lamp because she used to make rounds of the hospitals at night. She also set up her own nursing school in London.

Died: 13 August 1910

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Lister

Born: 5 April 1827

Nationality: British

Contribution to Medicine: Lister was a surgeon who promoted the idea of sterile surgery; he made great advances in the field of antiseptic medicine. He introduced carbolic acid as an antiseptic to clean wounds and surgical instruments. This led to safer surgery for the patients who he, and other surgeons, operated on.

Died: 10 February 1912

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Fleming

Born: 6 August 1881 

Nationality: British

Contribution to Medicine: Fleming discovered the antibiotic properties of penicillin after leaving a dish of germs on the sill of an open window whilst on holiday! He saw that none of the germs were growing on a speck of mould in the dish, which turned out to be penicillin. Fleming was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his discovery and Penicillin is still used today.

Died: 11 March 1955

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