Man has always struggled to become better and lead a better life. But something which has always appeared to get better of man was disease. Early men were quite helpless against them. But men didn’t give up and gradually came up with ways to lead more healthy life. Several men through ages have made significant contribution to this amazing science of medicine but some stand ahead of others.
Here is a list of top ten most significant contributors to this field of medical sciences:
10. Joseph Lister and William Morton
Though these two gentlemen never worked together still I’ve taken the pain to bring them together for it was their individual contributions that together made surgery endurable.
When Lister began his medical education, surgery had mortality rate of over 50℅. If a person was able to survive the pain of surgery without anesthesia, an infection after the surgery would usually cause death. He set out early to change this problem. He decided to use carbolic acid on a small boy with a compound fracture in his leg, in 1865. The wound didn’t become infected following the surgery. Lister’s success meant that antiseptics began to be used regularly and only fewer people died following a surgery.
Before mid 1800’s, there was nothing to dull the pain during surgery but whiskey. There were many efforts to come up with a solution. But it was a dentist, William Morton, who first used ether as a general anesthetic to painlessly remove a tumor from patient’s neck. His success led to widespread use of ether as general anesthetic.
9. Anton van Leeuwenhoek
Anton van Leeuwenhoek was a Dutch draper who made microscopes his hobby. In 1674, he took the plaque from between his teeth, and studied under the microscope. To his wonder, he saw many little living organisms that he called ‘animalcules’.
Leeuwenhoek realized that he had discovered something very important about how diseases were caused. Indeed, he was correct!
8. Paul Ehrlich
Paul Ehrlich, when he was trying to produce vaccine for diphtheria, discovered that if a poison or toxin is introduced into the body, it will make its own anti-toxin that will destroy the toxin. These anti-toxins are called anti-bodies. They are proteins that are carried in the blood, and they travel to whichever part of the body they are needed to fight an infection. His findings are basis of modern science of immunology.
7. William Harvey
Harvey was an English physician who was the first to describe accurately how blood was pumped around the body by heart. Most people of the day believed that food was converted into blood by liver, and then, was consumed as fuel by the body.
In 1628, he described how blood was pumped from the heart throughout the body, then returned to heart and then re-circulated. Valves in the heart ensured that the blood flowed only in right direction. His work became the basis for all modern research on heart and blood vessels.
6. Rudolf Virchow
Rudolf Virchow was a German pathologist, archaeologist, anthropologist, and founder of cellular pathology. He formulated the ‘Cell Theory’ in which he said that every cell comes from another cell, and life begins when fertilized egg divides into billions and billions of cells that make up human being.
He was of idea that diseases originate in cell, not in tissues, organs, or whole organ system. He identified abnormal cells that cause leukemia, and described the disease correctly as a rapid increase of WBCs in the body.
At the height of his career, he was offered noble status, with the new surname ‘Von Virchow’. However, he declined the offer.
5. Edward Jenner
It is difficult to imagine that a dreaded disease, small-pox, that before 1798 killed thousands of people was wiped out from the world by 1975. It was Edward Jenner who saved the world from this dreaded disease.
He experimented with pus from cowpox sores. He found that if you injected the pus from cowpox sore into healthy person, that person would not get smallpox even if he came into contact with a person suffering from small-pox. Thus, first vaccine was born and it was a great leap forward in medicine.
4. Alexander Fleming
He once forgot to clean the dish on which he was growing bacteria, and went on a holiday. When he came back, he discovered a kind of mould growing in the dish but to his utter bewilderness the bacteria surrounding the mould has been killed. Fleming called the mould penicillin and through many more experiments he found that it killed many more germs that caused infection. Fleming’s discovery saved the life of millions through the course of time.
3. Louis Pasteur
He is one of greatest benefactors of humanity. He put forth ‘germ theory’ of disease in which he advocated and proved that most infectious diseases are caused by micro-organisms and thereby founded science of microbiology.
He is best known for his discovery of vaccine for rabies. He reasoned that if a vaccine could be found for small-pox then a vaccine could be found for all diseases. He was able to produce vaccines for anthrax, and rabies.
2. Ian Wilmut
He is the head of the team that produced Dolly, the sheep in 1996. Dolly, was no ordinary sheep. She was the replica of another living sheep; infact she was first cloned mammal.
The primary focus of cloning is to reproduce stem cells that would be used to grow replacement organs. Further, farmers can multiply animals exactly with desirable qualities. This opens a wide horizon of possibilities both phenomenal and frightening.
1. Francis Crick and James Watson
DNA or ‘deoxyribonucleic acid’ is the hereditary information about human beings and all most all other organism. An, American scientist, Oswald Avery suggested that DNA might carry the genetic information from parent to child. But how one tiny molecule could carry so much information! Many scientists tried to explain the structure of DNA but it was finally Crick and Watson who built a double spiral of a molecule which explained the structure of DNA. It was this path breaking discovery that has secured them a duo position in list of greatest medical pioneers, the world has ever witnessed. In fact, they have discovered secret of life.