Best known as the father of modern epidemiology, British doctor John Snow revolutionized medical science with his study of London’s Broad Street cholera outbreak of 1854. His research contributed to the development of London’s sewage and water systems and led to the reduction in cholera cases.
Scottish surgeon Robert Liston worked in an era when anesthesia wasn’t invented. He could complete amputations within minutes, thus saving the lives of many when the speed of the surgery made the difference between life and death. Later, he became the first European surgeon to operate under anesthesia.
Known as The Father of Modern Gynaecology, J. Marion Sims is remembered for developing a surgical method to deal with vesicovaginal fistula, a childbirth-related complication. However, since his experiments were conducted on Black slave-women, without anesthesia, they were later deemed unethical. He had also headed the American Gynecological Society.
British surgeon Joseph Lister was a pioneer of antiseptic medicine usage and made a huge contribution to the development of preventive medicine for bacterial infection. His achievements have been honored by many, such as the makers of Listerine antiseptic and mouthwash, who named their product after him.
Mary Edwards Walker, or Dr. Mary Walker, was the only female surgeon who served injured soldiers during the American Civil War. A dress reform supporter, she believed women should value comfort more than tradition when it came to clothes. She was also the first and only Medal of Honor winner.
William Stewart Halsted was the man behind the first American surgical school at the Johns Hopkins University. The master surgeon made a number of contributions to medical science, including the introduction of mastectomy and aseptic surgical procedures. He often injected cocaine into his body to develop anesthesia.
Neuroscientist Wilder Penfield redefined medical science with his innovative way of treating epilepsy patients through surgery. He would note down his patients’ responses when they would be conscious under local anesthesia. He also founded the Montreal Neurological Institute, but was unable to cure his sister’s brain cancer.
Canadian thoracic surgeon Norman Bethune served as an army physician for the Canadian Army during World War I. He revolutionized medical science by introducing the concept of mobile blood-transfusion. A Communist Party of Canada member, he later served the Chinese army against Japan, becoming a revered name in China.
Daniel Hale Williams was a general surgeon known for performing the first documented, successful pericardium surgery in the US in 1893. Born to interracial parents, he faced numerous struggles in his journey to become a physician. He later founded the first non-segregated hospital in the United States, Chicago's Provident Hospital. He also founded a nursing school for African Americans.
Best known for his iconic war poems such as In Flanders Fields, Canadian poet John McCrae was also an army physician. He was the first Canadian to serve as a consulting surgeon for the British Army and had earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Army.
The first female doctor and surgeon of Britain, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was initially denied admission to medical schools because of her gender and had thus started studying privately. Soon after joining the Marylebone Dispensary as an attendant, she contributed to the formation of the New Hospital for Women.
William Chester Minor was an army surgeon and lexicographical researcher. He studied at Yale Medical School and earned a medical degree with a specialization in comparative anatomy. He then became an army surgeon. He was later committed to a London psychiatric hospital for many years as he suffered from paranoid delusions. He became a lexicographical researcher while incarcerated.
Harold Gillies was a New Zealand otolaryngologist who is considered the father of modern plastic surgery. He is also credited with pioneering sex reassignment surgery; he performed one of the earliest sex reassignment surgeries on Michael Dillon in 1946. Harold Gillies was also an amateur golfer and played in the annual Amateur Championship from 1906 to 1931.
Considered the founder of operative gynecology, Ephraim McDowell was also the first person to perfect lithotomy, a surgical technique for removing stones obstructing urinary bladder. He came to limelight when he successfully removed a 20-pound tumor from Jane Todd Crawford’s ovary, later performing twelve more ovariotomies, out of which seven were successful, thus demonstrating the viability of elective abdominal surgery.
Physician and surgeon William James Mayo is best-known as a principal co-founder of the non-profit American academic medical center Mayo Clinic. Son of British-American medical-doctor and chemist William Worrall Mayo, William James and his brother, Charles Horace Mayo, joined the sole-proprietorship medical practice of their father, which developed under them and other doctors intothe Mayo Clinic.
Nineteenth-century U.S. Army surgeon William Beaumont pioneered the study of human digestion. While treating a person named Alexis St. Martin, who had been near-fatally shot in the stomach, Beaumont discovered a lot of gastric processes and later published them as a treatise on the physiology of digestion.
Part of the Mayo medical family of the U.S., Charles Horace Mayo had established the Mayo Clinic with his brother William James Mayo and others. He specialized in varied medical fields, mastering neurosurgery, goitre surgery, cataract operations, and other procedures. He later served the U.S. Army surgical team.
American obstetrician/gynaecologist and professor Howard Atwood Kelly was among the four outstanding physicians, known as the Big Four, along with William Welch, William Halsted and William Osler, who became founding professors at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Kelly established gynaecology as a specialty, and developed a systematic approach to gynaecological medicine and surgery as well as new surgical techniques and devices.
Charles Bell was a Scottish surgeon, physiologist, anatomist, and neurologist. He was also an artist and philosophical theologian. He discovered the difference between sensory nerves and motor nerves in the spinal cord. He is also known for describing Bell's palsy. He played a key role in the creation of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School.
Russian-French surgeon Serge Voronoff, or the Monkey Gland Man, stunned everyone by implanting monkey testicles in his patients to cure impotence. He had apparently also injected himself with dog and guinea pig testicle extracts. Unfortunately, the scientific community dismissed his claims as simply the result of placebo effect.
Scotch-Irish American military-surgeon and politician James McHenry, who served as the 3rd United States Secretary of War, is noted as a signer of the United States Constitution from Maryland. He was elected a delegate to Maryland State Convention of 1788. He was instrumental in reorganizing the United States Army into four regiments and established the United States Department of the Navy.
American surgeon and pharmacist Crawford Long is best-known as the inventor of modern anaesthetics in the West. Long is believed to be the first to apply inhaled sulfuric ether as a general anaesthesia. He applied it for the first time in 1842 for removing a tumour from a patient’s neck and went on to perform several other surgeries using ether anaesthetic.
Dominique Jean Larrey was a French military doctor and surgeon. He is best remembered for his service during the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolutionary Wars. A prominent innovator in triage and battlefield medicine, Dominique Jean Larrey is widely regarded as the first modern military surgeon.
U.S. Army physician William C. Gorgas was in charge of the sanitation of Panama and successfully eradicated both malaria and yellow fever from the zone, thus paving the way for the construction of the Panama Canal. He was later made part of the Hall of Fame For Great Americans.
William Williams Keen pioneered brain surgery in the U.S. Working on neurological injuries as an army surgeon, he discovered many previously unknown neurological ailments. He was also part of a secret operation on a yacht to remove a tumor from the upper jaw of U.S. president Grover Cleveland.
German surgeon and botanist Heinrich Anton de Bary is regarded as the pioneer of plant pathology and mycology. Apart from teaching botany, he chalked the life cycles of many fungi and also coined the term symbiosis to explain the mutually beneficial co-existence of many orgnanisms, such as fungi and algae.
George Crabbe was an English surgeon, poet, and clergyman. He began his career as a doctor's apprentice in the 1770s and later become a surgeon. After a few years, he pursued a living as a poet and also served as a clergyman in various capacities. He wrote poetry mainly in the form of heroic couplets. He was also a coleopterist.
Guillaume, Baron Dupuytren was a French military surgeon and anatomist. Although he gained immense popularity after treating Napoleon Bonaparte's hemorrhoids, Dupuytren is best remembered for his description of Dupuytren's contracture. Guillaume, Baron Dupuytren was also an astute diagnostician and a brilliant teacher.
Born to former slaves, Louis T. Wright grew up to earn his medical degree from Harvard and ended up being the first Black surgical staff of Harlem Hospital, a non-segregated hospital in New York. His stint in the U.S. Army had caused him a lifelong respiratory ailment.
American surgeon George Washington Crile, who is noted for co-founding the non-profit American academic medical center called the Cleveland Clinic, is credited formally as the first surgeon who performed the first surgery using a direct blood transfusion. He made significant contributions to the study of blood pressure, described the radical neck dissection and designed a small hemostatic forceps.
British neurosurgeon Victor Horsley created history when he conducted the first spinal tumor operation. His research also included studies on thyroid and rabies. He was also knighted for his achievements but died of a heat stroke while serving the British army’s medical team during World War I.
Ernst von Bergmann was a Baltic German surgeon, known for being the first physician to introduce heat sterilization of surgical instruments. He is credited to be a pioneer of aseptic surgery. He also served as a medical officer in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) and the Franco-Prussian War. He wrote a classic treatise on head injuries, among other medical works.
American physician and abdominal-surgeon John Benjamin Murphy, who served as President of Chicago Medical Society and the American Medical Association, is best-remembered as an early advocate of intervention in appendicitis appendectomy. Several innovative procedures in areas like thoracic-surgery, neurosurgery, gynaecology, and orthopaedics were performed and elucidated by him. He is also noted for eponyms like Murphy drip and Murphy’s punch.
Apart from being a naval surgeon, John Richardson also made a named for himself as an explorer of the Canadian Arctic coast. He was also a talented author of natural history. His accurate surveys eventually got him knighted. Various species of reptiles and mammals have been named in his honor.
American surgeon Ernest Amory Codman is most noted for establishing an end results system based medical care and is considered widely as the founder of what is presently known as outcomes management in patient care. Besides the study of medical outcomes, Codman made contributions in the areas of radiology, orthopaedic oncology, anaesthesiology, shoulder surgery and duodenal ulcer surgery.
German explorer who served as a military surgeon in Central Africa and is remembered for his pioneering explorations of the Sahara. He was commissioned by the Prussian king William I to explore Bornu. He also covered Chad, Sudan, and Cairo, and was later sent to western Africa by Bismarck.
American academic trauma surgeon Samuel David Gross served as professor of surgery at the University of Louisville and Jefferson Medical College, and as president of the AMA. His best-known work was perhaps the two-volume System of Surgery. He was portrayed in Thomas Eakins’ masterpiece, The Gross Clinic. His bronze-statue made by Alexander Stirling Calder presently finds place at Thomas Jefferson University.
A physician by vocation, John Shaw Billings played an important role in eradicating yellow fever and served as the first director of New York Public Library. However, he is best remembered for developing the Surgeon General’s Office Library, not only expanding its volumes, but also redesigning catalogues with author and subject indexes, creating a separate indexing system for medical periodicals.