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.
Edward Jenner was an English scientist and physician. Referred to as the father of immunology, Jenner is credited with pioneering the concept of vaccines. Jenner's work laid the foundation for subsequent discoveries in the field of immunology; his work is believed to have saved more lives than any other work. In 2002, Jenner was included in BBC’s Greatest Britons list.
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.
The first to discover the entire process of human blood circulation, physician William Harvey was a Royal College of Physicians fellow. He also served as the personal physician of James I. He later worked at the Bartholomew’s Hospital but was replaced for being a staunch monarchist.
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.
Better known as former lover of Princess Diana, British-Pakistani cardiac surgeon Hasnat Khan was once described by the late princess as “Mr Wonderful.” He had first met Diana at the Royal Brompton Hospital, where the princess had gone to visit a friend. Hasnat is a distant relative of Imran Khan.
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.
10 John Snow
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.
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.
12 Harry Hill
Noted comedian and You've Been Framed! star Harry Hill is a trained neurosurgeon who quit his medical career to step into the world of entertainment. The Perrier Award-winning performer has soared to fame with the radio series Harry Hill's Fruit Corner and the ITV show Harry Hill's TV Burp.
13 James Barry
Military surgeon James Miranda Steuart Barry is most noted for making medical reforms and performing one of the first known successful Caesarean sections in Africa. Although during adulthood Barry lived as a man, at birth Barry was named Margaret Ann Bulkley and was known as a girl-child. Barry's birth sex became public after a post-mortem examination.
14 Liam Fox
British politician Liam Fox has held important posts, such as that of the Secretary of State for International Trade and has also chaired the Conservative Party. He is also a qualified general physician and a former civilian army medical officer. He is married to a fellow doctor.
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.
A qualified doctor, Christian Jessen holds a degree in sexual health and has also worked extensively on areas such as HIV. He became a household name after appearing on TV shows such as Embarrassing Bodies. The gay physician has also appeared on non-medical reality shows, such as Ready Steady Cook.
17 Thomas Young
Often referred as The Last Man Who Knew Everything, British polymath Thomas Young made significant contributions to a wide range of subjects like vision, light, energy, musical harmony etc. Especially famous for Wave Theory of Light, he also made significant contribution in deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Young-Helmholtz theory, Young temperament and Young's Modulus carry his legacy to these days.
Not many suspected physician John Bodkin Adams of being a serial killer till it was revealed that his name had appeared in the wills of at least 132 of his patients who had died, while 163 died in coma. Though never convicted of the killings, he faced punishment for forgery.
19 Ronald Ross
Nobel Prize-winning British doctor Ronald Ross is best remembered for his pathbreaking work on malaria, which proved that the disease was caused by the Anopheles variant of mosquitoes. After his extensive research in India, he went back to London, where he was knighted. He also wrote poetry and songs.
21 Henry Gray
Best known for his iconic medical textbook Gray's Anatomy, surgeon Henry Gray, who was a skilled anatomist, was made a Fellow of The Royal Society at the tender age of 25. His untimely death at 34 due to small pox, while treating his nephew, cheated him of an illustrious career.
British clinical-psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen is noted for making significant contributions in fields like autism-neuroimaging, autism-genetics, and synaesthesia, and his services to autistic people, for which he was knighted in the 2021 New Year Honours. He formulated mind-blindness theory and fetal-sex-steroid theory of autism and presently serves as a professor at the University of Cambridge and director of the university's Autism Research Centre.
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.
Hudson Taylor was one of the most popular Christian missionaries in China. His 51-year stint in China witnessed him baptizing over 50,000 people. Apart from converting people, he also mingled with the Chinese at a personal level, adopting their clothing habits, contrary to what other missionaries practiced.
British professor, medical doctor, scientist, television presenter and Labour Party politician Robert Winston is noted for developing gynaecological surgical procedures that improved fertility treatments. He also pioneered different improvements in IVF technology. He was created a life peer in December 1995.
Havelock Ellis co-wrote the first English textbook on homosexuality. Initially a teacher in Australia, he later moved to London to study medicine. His seven-part Studies in the Psychology of Sex is a first-of-its-kind study on human sexuality. He also believed in eugenics and the importance of smell in sexual behavior.
The man who lent his name to Parkinson’s disease, which he described as paralysis agitans in Essay on the Shaking Palsy, James Parkinson was a leading English surgeon. An avid paleontologist and geologist too, he often collected specimens and fossils. He and his son also offered the first description of appendicitis.
Born in Germany, neurosurgeon Ludwig Guttmann fled the country during the Nazi regime and later settled in the UK. What started as his effort to rehabilitate injured soldiers, materialized into the launch of the Paralympic Games to encourage sports among the disabled. He also worked extensively on paraplegia.
29 Hans Sloane
British doctor Hans Sloane traveled to Jamaica as a personal physician of the 2nd duke of Albermarle and was soon engrossed in the natural species of the region. He documented his collections, and they eventually helped form the British Museum. He is also known as the inventor of drinking chocolate.
30 Marty Makary
Johns Hopkins Hospital surgical oncologist Marty Makary is also known as the author of The New York Times bestseller Unaccountable. He specializes in pancreatic surgery and teaches public health policy. He has also written for Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal and has worked with the WHO.
Thomas Neill Cream, or the Lambeth Poisoner, was a Scottish-Canadian doctor who offered illegal abortions to sex workers in Chicago. He was later executing for poisoning scores of women and blackmailing others for their murders. It is believed he had claimed to be Jack the Ripper just before his execution.
Anthony Malcolm Daniels, better known by his pseudonym, Theodore Dalrymple, has worked as a physician in many African countries, such as Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The retired consultant psychiatrist and prison doctor is now known for his social and culture critiques in City Journal and other publications.
33 Henry Marsh
A neurosurgeon and best-selling author, Henry Thomas Marsh is also the subject of two BBC documentaries, Your Life in Their Hands and The English Surgeon, the later being based on his pioneering work in the field neurosurgery in Ukraine. A senior consultant neurosurgeon till his retirement from St George's Hospital, London, he specializes in performing brain operation under local anesthesia.
34 Ran Laurie
The son of a preacher, economist Nicholas Barbon actively participated in reconstructing London following the Great Fire of 1666 and then launched his own insurance company, pioneering fire insurance. As an economist, he penned significant works on the free market and division of labor. He was also a qualified doctor.
Born Laura Dillon, a girl, in Britain, Michael Dillon later became the first trans man to undergo a female-to-male sex-change operation by phalloplasty. A qualified doctor, he also served as a naval surgeon, penned books such as Self: A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology, and later deviated to Buddhism.
38 Wilfred Bion
Born in British India, Wilfred Bion grew up to be a prominent psychoanalyst. He had fought during World War I. He is best remembered for his work on group dynamics and the object relations theory. He was also part of the Tavistock group of psychologists who founded the Tavistock Institute.
Best known for his picaresque novels such as The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Scottish novelist Tobias Smollett was born into a family of lawyers and soldiers and initially attended medical training. Some believe he quit university without a degree, while it is also said he had served as a navy surgeon.
40 Sid Watkins
Eric Sidney Watkins or Professor Sid, as he was known within the Formula One fraternity, wanted to become a doctor since his childhood. An experienced neurosurgeon and academician, he later became Formula One's trackside consultant and safety adviser. He concentrated on creating sophisticated medical back-up necessary for providing timely treatment, thus saving many lives through prompt actions.
Best known for publishing The Family Shakespeare volumes, which made Shakespeare’s plays appealing to children, Thomas Bowdler was also a qualified doctor. His technique of diluting Shakespeare’s works gave rise to the word bowdlerize, which describes the over-simplification of books, films, or series, for making them family-friendly.
42 Kevin Fong
Apart from being a consultant anaesthetist at UCL Hospitals, Kevin Fong is also a physiology lecturer. The multi-talented doctor has also soared to fame as a presenter of the documentary series Horizon and other programs. He also specializes in space and extreme environment medicine and is a Wellcome Trust fellow.
British doctor John Langdon Down was pushed to assist at his father’s shop at 14. He gained an interest in medicine after apprenticing with a London surgeon. A pioneer in the treatment of mentally challenged patients, he is remembered for his study of what is now known as Down syndrome.
44 Robert Fludd
Best remembered for his study of occult philosophy, Robert Fludd, the son of English diplomat Sir Thomas Fludd, was also a physician. However, he was criticized for being a medical professional who believed in magic and defended Rosicrucianism. His other interests included cosmology, astrology, and Freemasonry.
Part of the renowned Mayo family of doctors of the U.S., William Worrall Mayo played a key role in establishing the Mayo Clinic. He and his two sons built the St. Mary’s Hospital, along with the Sisters of St. Francis, after the deadly tornado of 1883 destroyed Rochester.
The man behind the discoveries of ailments such as Addison's disease and Addison’s (pernicious) anemia, British physician Thomas Addison also co-wrote the first book on the effect of poisonous agents on the human body. He plunged into depression in his later years and eventually committed suicide.
47 Alex Comfort
Best known for his world-renowned bestselling sex manual The Joy of Sex and its equally successful follow-up books, British physician Alex Comfort had earned the nickname “Dr. Sex.” He had also written extensively on aging. He had apparently lost his left hand, except his thumb, in a gunpowder experiment.
48 George Bass
British naval surgeon George Bass is best remembered for his exploratory voyage to Australia, aboard the Reliance. He explored areas such as the Sydney coastline, Tasmania, and New South Wales. However, he was declared lost at sea after disappearing on a commercial voyage to South America.
Known as The English Hippocrates for authoring the medicine textbook Observationes Medicae, physician Thomas Sydenham is also remembered for his pathbreaking research on gout and scarlet fever. He also discovered St. Vitus’ dance, or Sydenham’s chore; believed in nosological classification of ailments; and popularized the use of quinine for treating malaria.