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.
Born to Turkish immigrants in the U.S., Mehmet Oz, better known as Dr. Oz, is a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon and professor. He is known for his multiple appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and for his YOU series of self-help books. He has also hosted The Dr. Oz Show.
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.
Galen was a Greek physician, philosopher, and surgeon in the Roman Empire. Regarded as one of the most proficient medical researchers in ancient history, Galen influenced the growth of several scientific disciplines, such as neurology, pharmacology, pathology, physiology, and anatomy. Thanks to the translation of his works into Arabic, Galen's approach to medicine remains influential in the Islamic world.
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.
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.
Scottish surgeon Robert Liston worked in an era when anesthesia wasn’t invented. He could complete amputations within minutes, thus saving the lives of many when the speed of the surgery made the difference between life and death. Later, he became the first European surgeon to operate under anesthesia.
William Chester Minor was an army surgeon and lexicographical researcher. He studied at Yale Medical School and earned a medical degree with a specialization in comparative anatomy. He then became an army surgeon. He was later committed to a London psychiatric hospital for many years as he suffered from paranoid delusions. He became a lexicographical researcher while incarcerated.
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.
14 James Barry
René Gerónimo Favaloro was an Argentine educator and cardiac surgeon. He is best remembered for his work on coronary artery bypass surgery. Favaloro is credited with establishing the Favaloro Foundation in an attempt to emulate Cleveland Clinic. He is also credited with founding the Basic Investigation Laboratory, which was financed with his own money.
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.
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.
Neuroscientist Wilder Penfield redefined medical science with his innovative way of treating epilepsy patients through surgery. He would note down his patients’ responses when they would be conscious under local anesthesia. He also founded the Montreal Neurological Institute, but was unable to cure his sister’s brain cancer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
23 John McCrae
Best known for his iconic war poems such as In Flanders Fields, Canadian poet John McCrae was also an army physician. He was the first Canadian to serve as a consulting surgeon for the British Army and had earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Army.
25 Magdi Yacoub
Magdi Yacoub is a retired professor who worked at Imperial College London. He is best known for his work in repairing heart valves, a procedure which came to be known as the Ross-Yacoub procedure. In 1983, he performed the United Kingdom's first combined lung and heart transplant. Also a humanitarian, Yacoub co-founded the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Foundation in 2008.
American neurologist Walter Jackson Freeman II is remembered for co-developing the technique of prefrontal lobotomy as a treatment for mental ailments, along with neurosurgeon James W. Watts. Though many of his patients died due to the treatment, he is still considered a pioneer in the field of neurosurgery.
Canadian thoracic surgeon Norman Bethune served as an army physician for the Canadian Army during World War I. He revolutionized medical science by introducing the concept of mobile blood-transfusion. A Communist Party of Canada member, he later served the Chinese army against Japan, becoming a revered name in China.
Denton Cooley was a heart and cardiothoracic surgeon. He is best known for performing the first implantation of a total artificial heart. He did his surgical training at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and later worked at Baylor College of Medicine. He founded The Texas Heart Institute and was a consultant at Texas Children's Hospital.
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30 Devi Shetty
31 Jan Adams
Cosmetic surgeon and TV personality Jan Adams made headlines after he conducted a liposuction, a tummy tuck, and a breast-reduction surgery on rapper Kanye West’s mother and she mysteriously died the following day. He has also penned books and appeared on shows such as Extra and The Other Half.
Daniel Hale Williams was a general surgeon known for performing the first documented, successful pericardium surgery in the US in 1893. Born to interracial parents, he faced numerous struggles in his journey to become a physician. He later founded the first non-segregated hospital in the United States, Chicago's Provident Hospital. He also founded a nursing school for African Americans.
German physician Werner Forssmann is best-known for developing a method that allowed cardiac catheterization. This led him to jointly receive the 1956 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Forssmann started clinical application of cardiac catheterization in 1929, when he inserted a catheter into a vein of his forearm and safely passed it into his heart and took an X-ray picture of it.
One of the best-known American orthopedic sports surgeons, James Andrews has been associated with multiple sports teams, such as Alabama Crimson Tide and the Tampa Bay Rays. Among his clients are sports stars Michael Jordan and Tom Brady. He has also headed various organizations, such as the American Sports Medicine Institute.
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.
Al-Zahrawi was an Arab Andalusian chemist, surgeon, and physician. Dubbed the father of modern surgery, Al-Zahrawi is widely regarded as the greatest surgeon of the Middle Ages. Al-Zahrawi was the first surgeon to use catgut for stitches and his pioneering contributions had an enormous effect in the West and East. Some of his discoveries are part of modern medical sciences.
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43 Victor Chang
Born to Australian-born Chinese parents in Shanghai, cardiac surgeon Victor Chang grew up in Hong Kong, Myanmar, and Sichuan, in the aftermath of the Second Sino-Japanese War. His mother’s death from breast cancer made him study medicine. The pioneer of heart transplantation, Chang was killed in an extortion attempt.
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45 Dr. Miami
Internationally renowned plastic surgeon Michael Salzhauer, better known as Dr. Miami, has soared to fame with his Snapchat stories that highlight his surgeries. He has also penned a book and released a single. He is quite a reality star, too, and has also inspired a series featuring himself.
Nazi doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger was better known as Adolf Hitler's personal surgeon. He not only conducted gruesome experiments on female inmates of the concentration camps, but also helped kill Hitler’s dog and Magda Goebbels’s children in Hitler’s bunker, before he escaped and eventually committed suicide by consuming cyanide.
While serving at the Nazi concentration camps during World War II, doctor Ernst-Günther Schenck created a protein sausage for Nazi troops, which was tested on the camp inmates, leading to many deaths. His experiences were later penned by him in his memoir, which inspired films such as Downfall.
Initially a professor of sports medicine, Karl Gebhardt later joined the Nazi camp. He had headed the German Red Cross and also developed sports for the physically disabled. After being accused of failing to treat Reinhard Heydrich, he conducted deadly experiments on concentration camp inmates to prove his innocence.