Famous American Physicians

Did you know that Hippocrates was the first ever man to diss the idea that diseases were caused by evil spirits or displeasure of gods and provided a more physical and rational explanation for it, thereby laying the cornerstone for modern day medicine? (That is how we have the famous Hippocratic Oath!) While Hippocrates is revered as the "Father of Western Medicine," the modern day world owes much of its medical feats to the American physicians. Had it not been for their groundbreaking, avant-garde medical breakthroughs, the world would have never known artificial kidney or artificial blood. American physicians like Charles Horace Mayo, William Osler Abbott, Virginia Apgar, Benjamin Spock and Ben Carson have played crucial roles in making medicine what it is today. From medical inventions to life saving surgeries, let us explore the biography, timeline, trivia and facts of such famous, exemplary American physicians whose enormous contribution to the world of medicine has been boundless.

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 American Physicians

 1 
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.

 2 
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.

 3 
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.

 4 
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.

 5 
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.

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.

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 7 
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.

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 8 
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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 9 
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.

 10 
Elizabeth Blackwell
(First Woman Medical Graduate)

Elizabeth Blackwell
4
Birthdate: February 3, 1821
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bristol
Died: May 31, 1910
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 11 
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.

 12 
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.

 13 
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.

 14 
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.

 15 
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.

 16 
Doctor Mike
(Celebrity Doctor)

Doctor Mike
7
Birthdate: November 12, 1989
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saransk, RSFSR, USSR (now Russia)
Russian-American doctor-turned-social media sensation Mikhail Varshavski, better known as "Doctor Mike," soared to fame when his Instagram account went viral. He has a health-themed YouTube channel. Named the Sexiest Doctor Alive by People magazine, he has formed Limitless Tomorrow, a foundation that awards scholarships to needy students.

 17 
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.

 18 
Jeffrey R. MacDonald
(Military physician, Soldier)

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

 19 
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.

 20 
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.

 21 
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.

 22 

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.

 23 
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.

 24 

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

 25 
Steven M. Greer
(Ufologist)

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

 26 
Howard Dean
(Former Governor of Vermont)

Howard Dean
4
Birthdate: November 17, 1948
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: East Hampton, New York, USA

 27 
Jennifer Ashton
(Physician)

Jennifer Ashton
4
Birthdate: April 23, 1969
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: George Air Force Base

 28 

J. Marion Sims
4
Birthdate: January 25, 1813
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lancaster County, South Carolina, United States
Died: November 13, 1883

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.

 29 
Robert Leckie
(journalist, historian, writer)

Robert Leckie
7
Birthdate: December 18, 1920
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: December 24, 2001

 30 
Paul Kalanithi
(Neurosurgeon)

Paul Kalanithi
4
Birthdate: April 1, 1977
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York
Died: March 9, 2015

Indian-American neurosurgeon and author Paul Kalanithi was a brilliant student, who initially studied both English literature and human biology at Stanford and later studied medicine at Yale. He died of metastatic lung cancer but not before penning the memoir When Breath Becomes Air, a New York Times bestseller, released posthumously.

 31 
Annie Sprinkle
(American Sexologist and Co-creator of the 'Ecosexual' Movement)

Annie Sprinkle
5
Birthdate: July 23, 1954
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Annie Sprinkle is an American sexologist who supports sex work and healthcare. Sprinkle, who identifies herself as ecosexual, works as a feminist stripper, sex educator, pornographic actress, and sex-positive feminist. She is credited with popularizing lesbian pornography and the post-porn movement.

 32 
Mary Edwards Walker
(Surgeon, Feminist, Activist)

Mary Edwards Walker
4
Birthdate: November 26, 1832
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Oswego
Died: February 21, 1919

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.

Paul Farmer
3
Birthdate: October 26, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: North Adams, Massachusetts
Died: February 21, 2022

Paul Farmer was a medical anthropologist and physician, who was a co-founder of Partners In Health (PIH), an international non-profit organization. He was a proponent of liberation theology and wrote extensively on health and human rights. 

 34 
Joycelyn Elders
(Pediatrician)

Joycelyn Elders
8
Birthdate: August 13, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Schaal, Arkansas, United States

The second female U.S. surgeon general, Joycelyn Elders is a renowned pediatrician and one of the first Black women to reach the pinnacle of the medical field in the U.S. She has been dragged into multiple controversies, one of them being a result of her support for sex education and masturbation.

 35 
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
(Psychologist, University teacher, Psychiatrist)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
4
Birthdate: September 29, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rijeka

William Carlos Williams
4
Birthdate: September 17, 1883
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rutherford, New Jersey, United States
Died: March 4, 1963

 37 
Samuel Mudd
(Physician, Farmer, Politician)

Samuel Mudd
4
Birthdate: December 20, 1833
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Charles County
Died: January 10, 1883

 38 
William Masters
(Gynecologist)

William Masters
4
Birthdate: December 27, 1915
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Died: February 16, 2001

 39 
Virginia Johnson
(Sexologist)

Virginia Johnson
4
Birthdate: February 11, 1925
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Springfield, Missouri, United States
Died: July 24, 2013

 40 
Henry Heimlich
(Physician, University teacher)

Henry Heimlich
4
Birthdate: February 3, 1920
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wilmington
Died: December 17, 2016

 41 
Aaron T. Beck
(Psychiatrist, University teacher, Psychologist)

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

William Stewart Halsted
3
Birthdate: September 23, 1852
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City
Died: September 7, 1922

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.

 43 
Frances Oldham Kelsey
(Pharmacologist)

Frances Oldham Kelsey
4
Birthdate: July 24, 1914
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cobble Hill, Canada
Died: August 7, 2015

As part of the FDA, Frances Oldham Kelsey prevented thalidomide from being allowed in the US drug market as a painkiller, as she was unsure of its impact. Her concerns were proved right when the drug caused birth defects in European children. She was subsequently awarded by the US president.

 44 
Anthony Fauci
(Physician)

Anthony Fauci
10
Birthdate: December 24, 1940
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York City, U.S.

American physician-scientist and immunologist Anthony Fauci serves as director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Chief Medical Advisor to President Joe Biden. As research scientist and chief of NIAID, Fauci contributed in the areas of HIV/AIDS research and other immunodeficiency diseases and received Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work on the AIDS relief program PEPFAR.

 45 
Jon Kabat-Zinn
(Physician)

Jon Kabat-Zinn
4
Birthdate: June 5, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

 46 
Harvey Cushing
(Neurosurgeon)

Harvey Cushing
3
Birthdate: April 8, 1869
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Died: October 7, 1939

 47 
Michael Burry
(Physician)

Michael Burry
4
Birthdate: June 19, 1971
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: San Jose, California, U.S.

Michael Burry had discovered his love for finance and investments while studying medicine. He eventually ditched his medical career to step into hedge-fund management. His story inspired Michael Lewis’s book The Big Short and the Academy Award-winning movie of the same name. He has an artificial eye since age 2.

 48 
Bill Frist
(Political Leader)

Bill Frist
6
Birthdate: February 22, 1952
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Nashville, Tennessee, USA

 49 
Tess Gerritsen
(Novelist)

Tess Gerritsen
3
Birthdate: June 12, 1953
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: San Diego, California, United States

 50 

C. Everett Koop
8
Birthdate: October 14, 1916
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: February 25, 2013

C. Everett Koop was a pediatric surgeon and public health administrator who served as the 13th Surgeon General of the United States under President Ronald Reagan. Previously, he had been a vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. He was well-known for his support of the rights of children with disabilities and his work with AIDS patients.