Famous 20th Century Physicians

Find out more about the greatest 20th Century Physicians, including Ben Carson, Chris Brown, Rand Paul, Ron Paul and Erik Erikson.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century Physicians

 1 
Carl Jung
(Psychiatrist)

Carl Jung
8
Birthdate: July 26, 1875
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kesswil, Switzerland
Died: June 6, 1961

Widely regarded as the father of analytical psychology, Carl Jung is one of the most important contributors to symbolization and dream analysis. The concepts of socionics and a popular psychometric instrument called Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) were developed from Jung's theory. Apart from working as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung was also an artist, craftsman, builder, and prolific writer.

 2 
Alexander Fleming
(Physician and Microbiologist Who Discovered ‘Penicillin’ World’s First Broadly Effective Antibiotic Substance)

Alexander Fleming
4
Birthdate: August 6, 1881
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Darvel, East Ayrshire, Scotland
Died: March 11, 1955

Alexander Fleming was a Scottish microbiologist and physician. He is credited with discovering penicillin, the world's first effective antibiotic substance; a discovery that changed the course of history. He also discovered lysozyme, an antimicrobial enzyme which forms part of the innate immune system. In 1999, Fleming was named in Time magazine's 100 Most Important People of the 20th century list.

 3 

Rosalind Franklin
5
Birthdate: July 25, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Notting Hill, London, England
Died: April 16, 1958
Chemist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin is remembered for her pathbreaking X-ray diffraction studies of DNA, which helped in the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the double helix structure of DNA by Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins later. She also worked on the molecular structures of viruses. 
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 4 
Jonas Salk
(Medical researcher)

Jonas Salk
4
Birthdate: October 28, 1914
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: June 23, 1995

If the world is successful in its fight against polio, the credit goes to American virologist Jonas Salk who developed a vaccine for the disease. Described as a “miracle worker”, his concerns for humanity were reflected in the fact that he did not claim a patent for the vaccine. He founded the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, based in California.

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 5 
James Watson
(Molecular Biologist Who Co-discovered the Double Helix Structure of DNA With Francis Crick)

James Watson
4
Birthdate: April 6, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

James Watson is a geneticist, molecular biologist, and zoologist. He is credited with co-authoring the academic paper that propounded the double helix structure of nucleic acids such as DNA for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. In 1977, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1997, he was awarded the National Medal of Science.

 6 
Francis Crick
(Co-discoverer of the Structure of the DNA Molecule, Nobel Prize Winner)

Francis Crick
4
Birthdate: June 8, 1916
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Weston Favell, Northamptonshire, England
Died: July 28, 2004

Nobel Prize-winning British biophysicist Francis Crick is best known for his ground-breaking work to determine the structure of the DNA, along with James Watson, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin. He taught at various institutes, such as the Salk Institute, and was also awarded the Order of Merit.

 7 
Virginia Apgar
(Physician and Anesthesiologist)

Virginia Apgar
4
Birthdate: June 7, 1909
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Westfield, New Jersey, United States
Died: August 7, 1974
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 8 
Christiaan Barnard
(Cardiac Surgeon)

Christiaan Barnard
4
Birthdate: November 8, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Beaufort West, South Africa
Died: September 2, 2001
Born to a preacher father of modest means, Christiaan Barnard completed his medical school on scholarships. In December 1967, he revolutionized medical science by performing the first human heart transplant by transplanting 25-year-old accident victim Denise Darvall’s heart into 53-year-old chronic heart patient grocer Louis Washkansky.

 9 
Charles R. Drew
(Physician & Surgeon)

Charles R. Drew
4
Birthdate: June 3, 1904
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: April 1, 1950

Born into a middle-class African-American family, Charles R. Drew initially excelled in football and track and field, and ended up earning athletic scholarships to fund his studies. He grew up to be a renowned surgeon and revolutionized the storage of blood plasma in blood banks.

 10 
Sigmund Freud
(Neurologist & the Founder of Psychoanalysis)

Sigmund Freud
9
Birthdate: May 6, 1856
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Příbor, Czechia
Died: September 23, 1939

Regarded as the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud was a neurologist. Despite suffering criticism, psychoanalysis remains influential in the fields of psychology and psychiatry; such is the influence Freud has on humanities. Scholars believe that Freud is one of the most influential personalities of the 20th century and that his impact is comparable to that of Marxism and Darwinism.

 11 
Ben Carson
(U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development (2017 – 2021))

Ben Carson
15
Birthdate: September 18, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is credited with many pioneering neurosurgical procedures. He became a Library of Congress “Living Legend” and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He later contested in the 2016 presidential primaries, has authored numerous books, was a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and earned 60 honorary doctorates.

 12 
Joseph Lister
(British Medical Scientist and a Pioneer in the Field of Antiseptic Medicine and Surgery)

Joseph Lister
4
Birthdate: April 5, 1827
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Upton House, West Ham, England
Died: February 10, 1912

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.

 13 
Benjamin Spock
(Pediatrician Whose 1946 Book 'Baby and Child Care' Revolutionized Parental Upbringing)

Benjamin Spock
8
Birthdate: May 2, 1903
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut, United States
Died: March 15, 1998

American paediatrician Benjamin Spock was the first paediatrician who studied psychoanalysis to comprehend needs of children and family dynamics. He penned Baby and Child Care, a best-seller book of the twentieth-century. His concepts of child-rearing influenced generations of parents. Spock was also an Olympic gold-medallist in rowing and ran during the 1972 United States presidential election as People's Party nominee.

 14 
Vivien Thomas
(Surgeon)

Vivien Thomas
5
Birthdate: August 29, 1910
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Iberia, Louisiana, United States
Died: November 26, 1985

Vivien Theodore Thomas was laboratory supervisor who never went to college; yet he rose above poverty and racism to develop a procedure for treating cyanotic heart disease. Initially billed as janitor, he began his career as assistant to surgeon Alfred Blalock first at Nashville University and later at Johns Hopkins, and in time discovered the life-saving technique, eventually becoming a teacher of operative techniques.

 15 
Bennet Omalu
(Pathologist, Neuropathologist)

Bennet Omalu
4
Birthdate: September 30, 1968
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Idemili South, Nigeria

Nigerian-American physician, forensic-pathologist and neuropathologist Bennet Omalu is most-noted for discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players. He was serving at Allegheny County coroner's office in Pittsburgh at that time. He presently serves as President and Medical Director of Bennet Omalu Pathology, chief medical examiner for San Joaquin County, and as professor at the University of California, Davis.

 16 
Barry Marshall
(Australian physician)

Barry Marshall
4
Birthdate: September 30, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Nobel Prize-winning Australian physician Barry Marshall, along with his colleague Robin Warren, proved that gastric ulcers were caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori and not by spicy food and other causes as previously believed. Their research made it possible to cure such ulcers by treating the bacteria with antibiotics.

 17 
Mae Jemison
(First African American Woman To Travel To Space)

Mae Jemison
5
Birthdate: October 17, 1956
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Decatur, Alabama, United States

Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison became the first Black woman to fly into space, as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavour. A qualified physician, she has served as a Peace Corps doctor, too. She has written several books and established a non-profit and a tech research organization.

 18 
William Osler
(Physician)

William Osler
4
Birthdate: July 12, 1849
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bradford West Gwillimbury, Canada
Died: December 29, 1919

Johns Hopkins Hospital co-founder William Osler was also an avid historian. He redefined medical education with his emphasis on clinical experience and his book The Principles and Practice of Medicine. Born to a missionary father in Canada, he was to follow in his father’s footsteps but decided to study medicine instead.

 19 

Ron Paul
6
Birthdate: August 20, 1935
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Ron Paul is a physician, author, and retired politician who has played an important role in promoting libertarian vision by delivering speeches on American college campuses. A doctor by profession, Ron Paul served in the U.S. Air Force as a flight surgeon from 1963 to 1968. His life and career inspired the 2012 film Ron Paul Uprising.

 20 
Patch Adams
(Physician)

Patch Adams
4
Birthdate: May 28, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

Patch Adams is an American physician, clown, comedian, author, and social activist. Credited with founding the Gesundheit! Institute, Adams advocates an alternative health care model. He also organizes volunteers who travel to various countries every year in order to bring a smile to the faces of patients, orphans, and other people.

Jean Piaget
5
Birthdate: August 9, 1896
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Died: September 16, 1980
Swiss psychologist and academic Jean Piaget is remembered for his work on child development and genetic epistemology, consisting of his theory of cognitive development. He also established the International Center for Genetic Epistemology and was the director of the International Bureau of Education. He was an honorary Harvard doctorate.

 22 
Sanjay Gupta
(Neurosurgeon and Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN)

Sanjay Gupta
7
Birthdate: October 23, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Novi, Michigan, United States

Born to Indian-origin parents in the U.S., Sanjay Gupta is an acclaimed neurosurgeon and medical writer. He has also had a successful stint as a medical reporter for CNN, covering medical issues at wars and disasters. He has played himself in the movie Contagion and is a skilled accordion player.

 23 
Ursula von der Leyen
(President of the European Commission (since Dec 2019))

Ursula von der Leyen
4
Birthdate: October 8, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ixelles, Belgium
Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen is currently serving as the first president of the European Commission. Named to Time 100 in 2020, she has previously been the first female defense minister of Germany, and has held positions such as the deputy leader of the CDU and the minister of labor.

 24 
Jack Kevorkian
(American pathologist)

Jack Kevorkian
4
Birthdate: May 26, 1928
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pontiac, Michigan, U.S.
Died: June 3, 2011

Jack Kevorkian was a pathologist who believed that euthanasia or mercy killing of terminally ill patients was necessary. He later claimed to have helped 130 patients die and earned the nickname “Dr. Death.” He was later convicted of murder for his role in the voluntary euthanasia of a patient.

 25 
Viktor Frankl
(Psychiatrist)

Viktor Frankl
7
Birthdate: March 26, 1905
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Leopoldstadt, Vienna, Austria
Died: September 2, 1997

Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl founded logotherapy. He also authored several books, most notably his bestselling autobiographical depiction of his ordeal at various Nazi concentration camps, Man's Search for Meaning. He had lost his parents, brother, and wife in the Holocaust. He later won honors such as the Oskar Pfister Award.

 26 
Paul Nassif
(Plastic surgeon)

Paul Nassif
4
Birthdate: June 6, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.

American plastic surgeon and television personality Paul Sabin Nassif is best known for specialising in rhinoplasty and for co-hosting the plastic surgery-themed American reality television series Botched and its spin-off series Botched by Nature with another plastic surgeon Terry Dubrow. Nassif owns the skincare line Nassif MD Dermaceuticals and is a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

 27 

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
4
Birthdate: July 8, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Zurich, Switzerland
Died: August 24, 2004

Best known for her pathbreaking bestseller On Death and Dying, Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross also made pioneering research in areas such as near-death studies. Her five stages of grief, or the Kübler-Ross model, has been adopted by corporates to help employees deal with loss and change.

 28 
Josef Mengele
(War Criminal)

Josef Mengele
5
Birthdate: March 16, 1911
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bavaria, Germany
Died: February 7, 1979

Known as Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele was the chief doctor of Auschwitz concentration camp and was responsible for killing thousands of Jews as well as torturing the prisoners mercilessly and conducting inhuman experiments on them. These included injecting them with chemicals and stitching twin children together. Despite his horrible crimes, the infamous Nazi doctor could never be captured.

 29 
John Harvey Kellogg
(Doctor, Inventor)

John Harvey Kellogg
4
Birthdate: February 26, 1852
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tyrone Township, Michigan, United States
Died: December 14, 1943
Physician, nutritionist, and businessman John Harvey Kellogg served as the director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which was a combination of a European spa, a hydrotherapy center, a hospital, and a hotel. He believed in biologic living. However, he is best remembered as the inventor of corn flakes.

 30 
Jill Stein
(Physician)

Jill Stein
6
Birthdate: May 14, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Jill Stein is a physician who later became the presidential nominee for the Green Party in the 2012 and 2016 elections. She has also been the Green-Rainbow Party's candidate for the governorship of Massachusetts in 2002 and 2010. She believed in the Green New Deal, including climate change reforms.

 31 
Frederick Banting
(Co-Discoverer of Insulin)

Frederick Banting
4
Birthdate: November 14, 1891
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Alliston, New Tecumseth, Canada
Died: February 21, 1941

Frederick Banting was a Canadian medical scientist and physician. In 1923, Banting and Scottish biochemist John James Rickard Macleod received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of insulin and its therapeutic potential. Aged 32 at that time, Banting remains the youngest Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine. He was knighted by King George V in 1934.

 32 
Albert Schweitzer
(Physician and Founder of the “Albert Schweitzer Hospital” in Lambaréné,)

Albert Schweitzer
4
Birthdate: January 14, 1875
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France
Died: September 4, 1965

Albert Schweitzer was an Alsatian polymath who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 for his philosophical work, Reverence for Life. He is credited with founding the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, which was a direct result of his philosophical expression. Schweitzer is also credited with influencing the Organ reform movement, which began in the mid-20th-century.

 33 
Andrew Wakefield
(Physician)

Andrew Wakefield
5
Birthdate: 1957 AD
Birthplace: Eton, Berkshire, England

Former physician Andrew Wakefield had his name removed from the medical register due to his association with a fraudulent 1998 study that claimed there was a link between autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella. An anti-vaccination activist, he also taught at the Royal Free and University College.

 34 
Jeffrey R. MacDonald
(Military physician, Soldier)

Jeffrey R. MacDonald
4
Birthdate: October 12, 1943
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: United States of America

 35 
Sam Sheppard
(Neurosurgeon)

Sam Sheppard
4
Birthdate: December 29, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio
Died: April 6, 1970

Sam Sheppard went from being a popular doctor at the Bay View Hospital to a murder suspect. After spending a decade behind bars, convicted of bludgeoning his wife, Marilyn Reese, to death in their bedroom and sentenced to life, he was eventually acquitted due to a lack of sufficient evidence.

 36 
Osamu Tezuka
(Film director, Film producer, Mangaka, Animator, Physician, Writer, Designer, Screenwriter)

Osamu Tezuka
4
Birthdate: November 3, 1928
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Toyonaka
Died: February 9, 1989

Osamu Tezuka was a Japanese manga artist, cartoonist, animator, and film director. He revolutionized the manga genre in Japan and was lovingly called  "the Godfather of Manga". A prolific artist, he created works for both children and adult-oriented projects. He was the recipient of several awards, including the Winsor McCay Award and the Japan Cartoonists Association Award. 

 37 
Alfred Adler
(Psychotherapist)

Alfred Adler
6
Birthdate: February 7, 1870
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus, Vienna, Austria
Died: May 28, 1937

Alfred Adler was an Austrian psychotherapist and medical doctor. He is credited with founding the school of individual psychology. He was also one of the founders of the psychoanalytic movement along with Sigmund Freud and Freud's colleagues. In 2002, a survey conducted by Review of General Psychology named Adler among the 20th century's most eminent psychologists.

 38 

Roger Bannister
4
Birthdate: March 23, 1929
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Harrow, England
Died: March 3, 2018

British middle-distance athlete and neurologist Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister was the first athlete to run a mile in less than four minutes. Before achieving such feat, Bannister set a British record in the 1500 metres during the 1952 Summer Olympics. In the medical field, Bannister became a neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford.

 39 
Alfred Kinsey
(Biologist)

Alfred Kinsey
4
Birthdate: June 23, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hoboken, New Jersey, United States
Died: August 25, 1956

Alfred Kinsey was an American biologist, sexologist, and professor of zoology and entomology. He is credited with founding the Indiana University's Institute for Sex Research in 1947. Kinsey's research on human sexuality and his other works have influenced cultural and social values in the USA as well as internationally. In 2012, Kinsey was inducted into Chicago's Legacy Walk.

 40 

Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
4
Birthdate: June 29, 1957
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Babarap, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

 41 
Connie Booth
(Actress, Psychotherapist)

Connie Booth
6
Birthdate: January 31, 1944
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Indianapolis
Connie Booth is best known as Polly Sherman from the series Fawlty Towers. She was also seen in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the series Monty Python's Flying Circus. She also appeared on stage. After retiring from acting, she began working as a psychotherapist in London.

 42 
Erich Fromm
(German Social Psychologist and Psychoanalyst & One of the Founders of The 'William Alanson White Institute')

Erich Fromm
4
Birthdate: March 23, 1900
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: March 18, 1980

Erich Fromm was a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, and socialist. A German Jew, he fled the Nazi regime and settled in the United States. He was a co-founder of  The William Alanson White Institute and was associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory. He is best remembered for authoring the book Escape from Freedom.

 43 
Maurice Wilkins
(Biophysicist)

Maurice Wilkins
3
Birthdate: December 15, 1916
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pongaroa, Wairarapa, New Zealand
Died: October 5, 2004

Born in New Zealand, to a doctor father from Dublin, Maurice grew up to be a Nobel Prize-winning biophysicist. His X-ray diffraction studies of DNA helped James D. Watson and Francis Crick, his fellow Nobel laureates, ascertain the DNA structure. He was also part of the Manhattan Project.

 44 

Edgar Buchanan
4
Birthdate: March 20, 1903
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Humansville, Missouri, United States
Died: April 4, 1979

 45 
Michelle Bachelet
(32nd and 34th President of Chile)

Michelle Bachelet
10
Birthdate: September 29, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Santiago, Chile

 46 
Li Wenliang
(Ophthalmologist)

Li Wenliang
6
Birthdate: October 12, 1986
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Beizhen, Jinzhou, China
Died: February 17, 2020

 47 
Steven M. Greer
(Ufologist)

Steven M. Greer
4
Birthdate: June 28, 1955
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Charlotte

 48 
Frantz Fanon
(Psychiatrist)

Frantz Fanon
6
Birthdate: July 20, 1925
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Fort-de-France, Martinique, France
Died: December 6, 1961

Frantz Fanon was a French-West Indian born in Martinique, a former French colony. A skilled psychiatrist and physician, he realized the impact of colonialism on the human mind while treating French soldiers and Algerians. The author of books such as The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon supported the Algerian independence movement.

 49 
Jacques Lacan
(Psychoanalyst, Psychiatrist)

Jacques Lacan
4
Birthdate: April 13, 1901
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 9, 1981
French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Jacques Lacan is remembered for his philosophical approach that explored Freudian concepts, to which he applied elements of structuralism and anthropology to create his own concepts. His controversial suggestions led to his expulsion from the International Psychoanalytic Association. One of his key concepts was “Return to Freud.”

 50 
Aaron T. Beck
(Psychiatrist, University teacher, Psychologist)

Aaron T. Beck
3
Birthdate: July 18, 1921
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Providence