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.

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 1 Jonas Salk

Jonas Salk
4
Famous As: Medical researcher
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

James Watson
4
Famous As: Molecular Biologist
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

Ben Carson
13
Famous As: Politician, Former Neurosurgeon
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 Ron Paul

Ron Paul
5
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.

 5 Sanjay Gupta

Sanjay Gupta
6
Famous As: Won multiple Emmy Awards for appearing on the program Sanjay Gupta, M.D.
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.

 6 Virginia Apgar

Virginia Apgar
4
Famous As: Physician and Anesthesiologist
Birthdate: June 7, 1909
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Westfield, New Jersey, United States
Died: August 7, 1974
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 7 Patch Adams

Patch Adams
4
Famous As: Physician
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 Jack Kevorkian

Jack Kevorkian
4
Famous As: American pathologist
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.

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 9 Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison
5
Famous As: First African American Woman To Travel To Space
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.

 10 Elizabeth Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell
4
Famous As: First Woman Medical Graduate
Birthdate: February 3, 1821
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bristol
Died: May 31, 1910
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 11 Charles R. Drew

Charles R. Drew
4
Famous As: Physician & Surgeon
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.

 12 Jill Stein

Jill Stein
6
Famous As: Physician
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.

 13 Paul Nassif

Paul Nassif
4
Famous As: Plastic surgeon
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.

 14 Sam Sheppard

Sam Sheppard
4
Famous As: Neurosurgeon
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.

 15 John Harvey Kellogg

John Harvey Kellogg
4
Famous As: Doctor, Inventor
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.

 16 Benjamin Spock

Benjamin Spock
8
Famous As: Pediatrician and Political Activist
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.

 17 Russell M. Nelson

Russell M. Nelson
4
Famous As: Religious Leader, Surgeon
Birthdate: September 9, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

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.

 18 Jeffrey R. MacDonald

Jeffrey R. MacDonald
4
Famous As: Military physician, Soldier
Birthdate: October 12, 1943
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: United States of America

 19 Vivien Thomas

Vivien Thomas
4
Famous As: Surgeon
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.

 20 Connie Booth

Connie Booth
6
Famous As: Actress, Psychotherapist
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.

 21 Stella Immanuel

Stella Immanuel
6
Famous As: Physician, writer
Birthdate: 1965 AD
Birthplace: Cameroon

 22 Edgar Buchanan

Edgar Buchanan
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 20, 1903
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Humansville, Missouri
Died: April 4, 1979

 23 Philip Zimbardo

Philip Zimbardo
4
Famous As: Psychologist, University teacher
Birthdate: March 23, 1933
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Psychologist and Stanford professor Philip Zimbardo is best known for his Stanford prison experiment, which proved how prisoners get abusive due to situational factors. He is also known for his books The Lucifer Effect and The Time Paradox and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Psychological Foundation.

 24 Howard Dean

Howard Dean
4
Famous As: Former Governor of Vermont
Birthdate: November 17, 1948
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: East Hampton, New York, USA

 25 Robert Leckie

Robert Leckie
7
Famous As: journalist, historian, writer
Birthdate: December 18, 1920
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: December 24, 2001

 26 Steven M. Greer

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

 27 Aaron T. Beck

Aaron T. Beck
3
Famous As: Psychiatrist, University teacher, Psychologist
Birthdate: July 18, 1921
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Providence

 28 J. Marion Sims

J. Marion Sims
4
Famous As: Surgeon
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 Carol S. Dweck

Carol S. Dweck
4
Famous As: Physiologists
Birthdate: October 17, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

Renowned psychologist Carol S. Dweck has taught at both Columbia and Harvard and is now a professor at Stanford. She is best known for her research on fixed mindset and growth mindset and has also penned popular books such as Self-theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality and Development.

 30 Jennifer Ashton

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

 31 Joycelyn Elders

Joycelyn Elders
8
Famous As: Pediatrician
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.

 32 Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
4
Famous As: Psychologist, University teacher, Psychiatrist
Birthdate: September 29, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rijeka

 33 Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Rush
4
Birthdate: January 4, 1746
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Philadelphia
Died: April 19, 1813

 34 William Carlos Williams

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

 35 Annie Sprinkle

Annie Sprinkle
5
Famous As: Sexologist
Birthdate: July 23, 1954
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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.

 36 Mary Edwards Walker

Mary Edwards Walker
4
Famous As: Surgeon, Feminist, Activist
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.

 37 Virginia Johnson

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

 38 Anthony Fauci

Anthony Fauci
9
Famous As: Physician
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.

 39 Michael Burry

Michael Burry
4
Famous As: Physician
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.

 40 Joseph Mercola

Joseph Mercola
4
Famous As: Physician, Writer
Birthdate: July 8, 1954
Sun Sign: Cancer

 41 Henry Heimlich

Henry Heimlich
4
Famous As: Physician, University teacher
Birthdate: February 3, 1920
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wilmington
Died: December 17, 2016

 42 Paul Kalanithi

Paul Kalanithi
4
Famous As: Neurosurgeon
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.

 43 William Stewart Halsted

William Stewart Halsted
3
Famous As: Surgeon
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.

 44 Jon Kabat-Zinn

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

 45 Samuel Mudd

Samuel Mudd
4
Famous As: Physician, Farmer, Politician
Birthdate: December 20, 1833
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Charles County
Died: January 10, 1883

 46 Bill Frist

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

 47 Harvey Cushing

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

 48 C. Everett Koop

C. Everett Koop
7
Famous As: Surgeon
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. 

 49 Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman
4
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: November 22, 1959
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: America

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.

 50 Younan Nowzaradan

Younan Nowzaradan
0
Famous As: Specializes in vascular surgery and bariatric surgery.
Birthdate: October 11, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tehran, Pahlavi Iran Imperial State of Iran