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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Russell M. Nelson is an American religious leader and the current president of the Mormon Church. A former surgeon, Nelson is credited with co-developing the heart-lung machine, which was used in the first-ever open-heart surgery. He became a respected heart surgeon and went on to serve as the president of the Utah Medical Association before becoming a religious leader.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Mark Hyman is an American physician and writer. He is credited with founding The UltraWellness Center where he also serves as the medical director. Hyman has contributed as a columnist for The Huffington Post and has co-authored a New York Times best-selling book titled The Daniel Plan. Since 2004, he has been serving as Bill and Hillary Clinton's medical adviser.
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.