Medicine - Important People


Hippocrates - Ancient Greece


  • His ideas and books were very influential in Roman Times and beyond
  • He dismissed the idea that gods caused disease
  • He believed there was a physical reason for illness, of which needed a physical cure
  • Most of his treatments were based on dietexercise and rest but he also used bleeding and purging to get rid of excess humours
  • He wrote the Hippocratic Oathdoctors swore to respect life and prevent harm
  • His method of clinical observation - studying symptoms, making notes, comparing with similar cases, then diagnosing and treating - is the basis of the approach used today
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Galen - Ancient Rome


  • He was a Greek doctor who worked in Rome in the 2nd century AD. He wrote many books, detailing his ideas, which were studied for the next 1000 years
  • Galen carried out dissections on dead bodies (mainly animals). He then drew diagrams of them to explain human anatomy
  • Galen and many others were convinced his ideas were right, and they dominated medicine for over 1500 years 
  • Galen operated on wounded gladiators. This increased his knowledge of anatomy 
  • Galen developed the Theory of Opposites to balance the humours and treat illness 
  • Galen developed Hippocrates' ideas. Used bloodletting or purging to prevent illness
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Vesalius - Renaissance (1543)

Andreas Vesalius

  • Vesalius proved that many of Galen's ideas were incorrect. For example, Galen said the jaw had 2 bones but humans only had one.
  • Vesalius drew the muscles, nerves, organs and skeleton of the human body from dissections
  • Vesalius proved Galen to be wrong however people were unwilling to believe that. As such Vesalius' ideas were dismissed for a long period of time
  • 1543 - He wrote a book called "The Fabric of the Human Body" which meant others could learn about human anatomy
  •  - Technology played a part in this, as the technology of the printing press allowed it to be made and distributed easily
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Harvey - Renaissance (1628)

William Harvey

  • Discovered that Galen's ideas about blood were wrong
  • Harvey discovered that veins carry only blood, which was pumped through the body by the heart
  • 1628 - He published "An Anatomical Account of the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals" of which contained his findings
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Jenner - Industrial (1798)

Edward Jenner 

  • 1798 - The Royal Society refused to publish Jenner's ideas so he paid to print pamphlets explaining his work
  • 1802 - Jennerian Society set up to promote vaccination
  • 1804 - 12 000+ people vaccinated
  • 1840 - The government began paying for vaccination
  • 1853 - Government made vaccination compulsory
  • 1979 - The WHO announced smallpox had been wiped out
  • he didn't know why it worked
  • link between cowpox/smallpox was unique - didn't lead to other vaccinations
  • other diseases were still killing people
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Chadwick - Industrial (1842)

Edwin Chadwick

  • He undertook a survey of conditions in working class areas of towns to work out how to reduce the taxes needed for workhoueses.
  • 1842 - Published resultsThe Sanitary Condittion of the Labouring Population
  • Belief in "laissez-faire" at the time; government should not interfere in people's lives
  • People also believed that government should not interefere in business(government sanitation schemes reduced water companies' profits).
  • People did not want to pay towards improving conditions for others who could not pay themselves
  • Little was done until another outbreak of cholera in 1848 - led to the Public Health Act
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Snow - Industrial (1854)

John Snow

  • Had a theory that cholera was spread through water, not "bad air"
  • When cholera broke out again in 1854 he mapped all the deaths in one area and found a strong link to one water pump on Broad Street
  • He removed the handle from the pump so people couldn't collect water from it and the number of deaths in that area fell dramatically
  • His work seemed to prove there was a link between water and cholera, but still 
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Nightingale - Industrial (1854)

Florence Nightingale

  • Nightingale trained as a nurse which wasn't a respectable profession.
  • Asked to lead a team of nurses at a Military Hospital during the Crimean War (1854-1856).
  • She believed miasma caused disease so she emphasised, hygiene, fresh air and good supplies/training for nurses.
  • Her approach lowered the death rate from 42% to 2% and she published Notes on Nursing in 1859
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Pasteur - Industrial (1861)

Louis Pasteur

  • Pasteur was the first man to suggest that germs caused disease.
  • He proved that germs were in the air by sterilising water and keeping it in a flask that didn't allow airborne particles to enter.
  • It stayed sterile while sterilised water in open flask bed micro-organisms again.
  • This process he came up with was called 'pasteurisation'.
  • He was employed in 1857 to find an explanation for the souring of sugar beet when fermenting alcohol and in 1864 he proved that air carried microbes which caused contamination and decay
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Lister - Industrial (1865)

Joseph Lister

  • Lister read Pasteur's work and experimented by soaking dressings in carbolic acid and covering the wound with them.
  • The rate of infection was vastly reduced.
  • Also experimented with washing hands, spraying carbolic spray in the operating theatre and sterilising instruments
  • He experimented and came up with the theory that cleanliness in hospitals made everything better but couldn't prove why so his ideas were dismissed
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Garrett Anderson - Industrial (1866)

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

  • Women weren't allowed to be doctors. Elizabeth (a nurse) defied the system and went to medical lectures until she was forced to stop. Then she studied privately
  • The Society of Apothecaries did not bar women and Elizabeth passed their exam in 1865. After a court case, she was certified a doctor but the Society later changed its rules to prevent women qualifying
  • She set up a medical practice in London and gained a medical degree at university in Paris. She helped set up the New Hospital for Women, and the London School of Medicine for Women
  • She set an important precedent, and in 1876 women were allowed to go to university and obtain degrees
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Koch - Industrial (1872)

Robert Koch

  • Koch read Pasteur's work and in 1872 he began researching microbes affecting disease in animals and people.
  • He linked disease to the microbes that caused each disease such as he identified the microbes that caused Tuberculosis and Cholera.
  • He developed Pasteur's work and in 1877 Pasteur came out of retirement to compete in the race against Koch's team to find and combat new microbes

The importance of Koch and Pasteur was they showed the importance of working in teams as it was easier for research teams to get funding for new technology such as microscopes and different members of the team brought different research skills. Also younger scientists worked closely with the head of the research teams so that when they died the work could carry on without any interruptions and it made it a lot quicker and efficient

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Fleming - Modern (1929)

Alexander Fleming

  • 1920 - Alexander Fleming saw bacteria in a Petri dish was killed by a penicillium mould. Tested it on other bacteria; found the mould made an antibiotic (penicillin)
  • 1929 - Fleming published his findings but had no funding to continue research
  • Later, Howard FloreyErnst Chain and team continued research on penicillin
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Domagk and Ehrlich - Modern (1932)

Gerhand Domagk and Paul Ehrlich

  • Koch discovered that different chemical dyes stained specific microbes
  • Behring found that the body makes antitoxins that attack microbes
  • Paul Ehrlich and his team of researchers searched for a "magic bullet" - a chemical compound that would kill the microbe causing a specific disease
  • Helped by German government funding they worked for many years. They testedmany compounds of Salvarson to find one to cure syphilis
  • 1909 - Dr Hata joined; discovered they rejected a compound that worked (606th)
  • 1932 - Gerhand Domagk developed the second magic bullet, Prontosil, which cured some types of blood poisoning
  • Other scientists checking Domagk's work found that the key ingredient in Prontosil,sulphonamide, also cured Pneumonia, scarlet fever and meningitis
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Florey and Chain - Modern (1941)

Howard Florey and Ernst Chain

  • 1929 - Fleming published his findings but had no funding to continue research
  • Later, Howard FloreyErnst Chain and team continued research on penicillin
  • Effective on mice, they tested humans. Pencillin killed bacteria and the infection
  • The mould had to be grown in huge amounts to be effective. British factories (damaged by WW2) and drug companies were working to produce other drugs
  • June 1941 - Florey asked US drug companies for help. They refused. When the US entered the war, and antibiotics were needed, the US government offered funding
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Watson and Crick - Modern (1953)

James Watson and Francis Crick

  • C19th - Mendel: human characteristics could be passed between generations
  • C20th - New tech (electron microscopes, x-rays)let scientists analyse cells in detail. Found that every cell contains DNA - codes controlling the genes
  • Watson and Crick worked together on how genetic codes of DNA fitted together
  • Analysed X-ray crystallography by Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin at King's College Hospital (London) - worked the double helix structure of DNA (1953)
  • In 1990 James Watson led the Human Genome Project and started identifying and mapping every gene in human DNA
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