HOM

A History of Medicine

Early domestication of plants and animals (9000 BC)

First Urban centres: Mesopotamia (4000 BC)

Writing invented (3000 BC)

  • 650 BC — Epilepsy described (Babylonian text)
  • 585 BC — beginnings of Greek philosophy
  • 430 BC — plague of Athens

Birth of Plato (428 BC)

420 BC – Hippocrates of Cos active

399 BC — Death of Socrates

384 BC — Aristotle of Stagira born

  • 310 BC — Praxagoras, of Cos, active

300 BC — Alexandrian Museum and Library founded

Pliny the Elder born (23 AD)

  • 40 AD — On Medicine, Celsus
  • 60 AD — Dioscorides active

129 AD – birth of Galen of Pergamum

Christianity legalised in Rome (313)

  • 350 — First hospitals in Eastern Roman Empire
  • 390 — Fabiola founds a hospital in Rome
  • 512 — De Materia Medica (illustrated edition), Dioscorides
  • 541 — First plague pandemic
  • 700 — Japan’s ‘age of plagues’ begins
  • 1037 — Canon of Medicine author, ibn Sina (Avicenna), dies

School of Salerno (1080)

  • 1559 — De Re Anatomica, Realdo Colombo
  • 1610 — First well-documented Caesarian section (Germany)

Pilgrim Fathers leave for the New World in the Mayflower (1618)

James Cook circumnavigates the southern oceans (1772)

  • 1773 — digestive action of saliva: Spallanzani, Lazzaro
  • 1774 — oxygen discovered: Priestly, Joseph
    • Hypnosis used as a medical treatment: Mesmer, Franz [mesmerising]

American Declaration of Independence (1775)

  • 1775 — Environmental factors can cause cancer: Pott, Percival [Pott’s fracture]
  • 1780 — Experiments with muscles and electricity: Galvani, Luigi [Galvanism]
  • 1781 — Composition of water determined: Cavendish, Henry [Cavendish experiment]
  • 1785 — Digitalis (from foxglove) to cure dropsy: Withering, William

George Washington 1st American President / French Revolution begins (1789)

Napoleon Bonaparte crowned Emperor of France (1804)

Battle of Trafalgar (1805)

  • 1805 — morphine isolated: Sertürner, Frederick

Slave trade abolished within the British Empire (1807)

Battle of Waterloo (1815)

Tambora volcano (Indonesia) eruption causes two cold summers in Europe and North America (1815) [Year Without a Summer]

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Liberia founded as colony for freed slaves (1822)

  • 1823 — Hydrochloric acid in stomach secretions: Prout, William
  • 1824 — Carbon dioxide used on animals as general anesthetic: Hickman, Henry
  • 1825 — First tracheotomy: Bretonneau, Pierre

First railway, from Stockton to Darlington (1825)

  • 1826 — describes symptoms of and names diphtheria, distinguishing it from scarlet fever: Bretonneau, Pierre
  • 1827 — kidney disease described: Bright, Richard [Bright’s disease]
  • 1828 — Urea synthesised: Wohler, Friedrich
  • 1829 — Haemophilia described: Schönlein, Johann [Henoch-Schönlein purpura]
  • 1830 — different types of nerves distinguished: Bell, Charles

Charles Darwin joins crew of HMS Beagle (1831)

  • 1832 — codeine isolated: Robiquet, Pierre-Jean [asparagine]
    • Warburton Anatomy Act legalises sale of bodies for dissection in England
    • Cancer of the lymph nodes described: Hodgkin, Thomas [Hodgkin’s disease]

1834 — New Poor Law in England

Registration Act (births, deaths, and marriages) in England (1838)

First Opium War between China and Britain (1840)

First failure of Irish potato crop (1845)

Smithsonian Institution established in Washington, DC (1846; opened 1855)

  • 1846 — first publicly demonstrated use of inhaled ether as a surgical anesthetic, Massachusetts General Hospital: Morton, William [1944 Paramount Pictures film The Great Moment]
  • 1847 — Chloroform used to relieve the pain of childbirth: Simpson, James Young
  • 1848 — First Public Health Act sets up General Board of Health in Britain, leading to local medical officers (LMO) of health
  • 1849 — Anaemia described: Addison, Thomas
  • 1851 — Ophthalmoscope introduced: von Helmholtz, Herman

David Livingston’s explorations in Africa (1853)

  • 1853 — Smallpox vaccination made compulsory in England
    • Chloroform administered to Queen Victoria for the birth of Prince Leopold: Snow, John

Crimean War (1854)

  • 1854 — John Snow breaks the street-pump in London [1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak; The Doctor of Broad Street]
  • 1855 — Hormone deficiency disease from malfunctioning adrenals: Addison, Thomas [Addison’s disease; Pernicious anemia]
  • 1856 — First synthetic dye (mauvine): Perkin, William
  • 1858 — Gray’s Anatomy first published
    • Medical Reform Act sets up Medical Register and General Medical Council: Britain
    • Cellularpathologie, Rudolf Virchow
  • 1859 — The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin
  • 1860 — Nightingale Nursing School founded: St. Thomas’s Hospital, London

American Civil War (1861)

  • 1861 — Anaerobic bacteria discovered: Pasteur, Louis [Pasteurization; Pasteur Institute]
  • 1863 — Sphygmograph invented: Marey, Etienne Jules [sphygmograph]
    • Fourth cholera pandemic
  • 1864 — International Red Cross founded

1865 — American Civil War ends and slavery abolished

Joseph Lister: introduces Phenol as a disinfectant in surgery

  • 1866 — Clinical thermometer developed: Allbutt, Thomas

1865 — Russia sells Alaska to the USA / Dominion of Canada established

  • 1867 — First international medical congress: Paris

Opening of Suez Canal (1869)

  • 1869 — Skin-grafting described: Reverdin, Jacques
  • 1871 — Descent of Man, Charles Darwin

1873 – William Osler writes on blood platelets

1874 – Sophia Louisa Jex-Blake: opened London School of Medicine for Women (she had matriculated in Medicine from Edinburgh University only to have the decision reversed in 1873)

  • 1875 — Public Health Act: Britain

Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone (1876)

1876 – Robert Koch: identifies the anthrax bacillus [Koch’s postulates]

  • 1876 — Cruelty to Animals Act: Britain

    • connection between pancreas and sugar diabetes discovered
  • 1879 — Mosquitoes transmit filariasis: Manson, Patrick [tropical medicine; Schistosoma mansoni; sparganosis]
  • 1880 — Malaria parasite isolated: Laveran, Charles [parasitic protozoans; Plasmodium; Trypanosoma]
  • 1881 — Fifth Cholera pandemic
    • Institute of Midwives established in London
    • Anthrax vaccine: Pasteur, Louis
  • 1882 — Tubercle bacillus isolated: Koch, Robert
    • surgical removal of the gallbladder
  • 1883 — Vibrio cholera discovered: Koch, Robert
  • 1884 — Phagocytosis described: Metchnikoff, Elie
  • 1885 — Rabies vaccine developed: Pasteur, Louis
  • 1889 — John Hopkins Hospital opens, Baltimore
  • 1890 — William Halsted introduces surgical gloves;
  • 1893 — Writing on the use of hypnotism: Charcot, Jean
    • First open-heart surgery (Chicago): Williams, Daniel
    • John Hopkins Medical School founded
  • 1894 — Diphtheria antitoxin first used (Britain): Sherrington, Charles
  • 1895 — X-Rays discovered: Röntgen, Wilhelm
  • 1896 — Radiation discovered: Becquerel, Antoine
  • 1897 — malarial parasite located within Anopheles mosquito: Ross, Ronald
  • 1898 — Tropical Diseases: Manson, Patrick

Marie (and Pierre) Curie: obtain Radium from pitchblende

1899 — Boer War begins (ends 1902)

  • Sixth cholera pandemic
    • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine founded
    • Aspirin introduced
  • 1900 — The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud
    • Four major human Blood Groups identified: Landsteiner, Karl

1901 — First Nobel Prizes

  • 1902 — Secretin discovered: William Bayliss & Ernest Starling
    • Registration of Midwives Act: Britain

1903 — Wright Brothers fly in petrol-powered aircraft

  • Electrocardiograph described: Einthoven
  • 1904 — Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research: New York
  • 1905 — Direct Blood Transfusion: Washington Crile, George
    • Artificial hip joint: Murphy, J. B.
  • 1906 — Experiments on ‘accessory food factors’ (Vitamins): Hopkins, Frederick Gowland
  • 1907 — method for bringing divers to surface safely
  • 1908 — Sulphanilamide first synthesised
  • 1909 — Inborn Errors of Metabolism, Archibald Edward Garrod

1909 — industrial production of plastics; North Pole reached (Peary and Hensen)

  • 1910 — Salvarsan for treatment of Syphilis (birth of modern chemotherapy): Ehrlich, Paul
 1911 — South Pole reached (Amundsen)
  • National Insurance Act (sets up first state medical insurance scheme): Britain
    • Gastroscope developed: Hill, William

1912 — Titanic sinks on maiden voyage

  • The Pituitary Gland and its Disorders, Cushing, Harvey
  • the term ‘vitamin’ coined: Funk, Casimir
  • 1913 — first artificial kidney developed: Abel, John Jacob

1914 — outbreak of WWI; Panama canal opens

  • neurotransmitter acetylcholine discovered, in ergot: Dale, Henry

1916 — General Theory of Relativity: Einstein, Albert

  • involuntary nervous system: Gaskel, Walter
  • first American birth control clinic: Sanger, Margaret
  • Married Love, Mary Stopes
  • 1917 — Psychology of the Unconscious, Carl Jung

1918 — End WWI; start influenza pandemic

1919 — atom split: Rutherford, Ernest; crossing of Atlantic by air

1920 — League of Nations

  • 1921 — Marie Stopes birth control clinic: London
    • Insulin isolated: Banting and Best

1922 — USSR established

1923 — Turkish republic formed (Ottoman Empire ends)

  • BCG tubercle vaccine: Albert Calmette and Camille Guerin
  • 1926 — first enzyme crystalised (urease): Sumner, James
  • 1927 — ‘iron lung’ developed: Philip Drinker and Louis Shaw
  • 1928 — Penicillin discovered in a mould: Fleming, Alexander

References

  • The Reference Guide to the Cambridge History of Medicine. Cambridge University Press, 2006 (New York)
  • History of medicine – Wikipedia

All images in the public domain [Wikimedia Commons]

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