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Highlights in Medical History

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ca. 8000 B.C. Prehistoric man practiced trephining -- the first-known surgical treatment.
ca. 2500 B.C. Egyptian physicians developed the first systematic methods of treating diseases.
ca. 400s B.C. Hippocrates showed that diseases have only natural, not supernatural, causes.

ca. A.D. 100s Galen formulated the first medical theories based on scientific experimentations.

1100s The first university medical schools developed in Europe.

1543 Andreas Vesalius published On the Fabric of the Human Body, the first scientific study of human anatomy.
mid-1500s Ambroise Parť introduced advanced surgical techniques.

1628 William Harvey founded modern physiology with his book on blood circulation.
1676 Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discovered bacteria, which helped lead to the germ theory of disease.

1736 The world's first successful appendectomy (to be recorded in history) was performed.
1796 Edward Jenner gave the first officially recognized vaccination, against smallpox.

1800 Bichet founded the field of histology, the study of tissues.
The stethoscope was invented by LaŽnnec.
1822 Beaumont published a description of the digestive process.
1842-1846 Crawford Long and William T.G. Morton introduced the use of ether, the first practical anesthestic.
1847 The American Medical Association was founded.
mid-1800s Florence Nightingale founded the modern nursing profession.
1850s Rudolf Virchow pioneered in pathology, the scientific study of diseases.
mid- to late 1800s Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch firmly established that certain bacteria cause certain diseases.
1865 Joseph Lister introduced antiseptic methods to surgery.
1866 The clinical thermometer was invented by Allbut.
1884 Klebs-Loeffler discovered the bacteria responsible for diptheria.
1885 Louis Pasteur developed a vaccine for rabies.
1894 The bacteria responsible for the bubonic plague was discovered by Yersin.
1895 Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-rays, used in diagnosing diseases and treating cancer
1898 Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radium, used in treating cancer.

ca. 1900 Sigmund Freud developed the psychoanalytic method of treating mental illness.
1901 Walter Reed determined that yellow fever was spread by mosquitoes.
early 1900s Christiaan Eijkman and Frederick G. Hopkins demonstrated the existence of vitamins.
1906 Wasserman developed a test for syphilis.
ca. 1910 Paul Ehrlich introduced chemotherapy, the use of chemicals to destroy the microbes responsible for particular diseases.
1928 Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, the first antibiotic drug.
1935 Gerhard Domagk discovered the ability of sulfa drugs to cure infections in animals.
early 1950s The development of new techniques and devices revolutionized heart surgery.
early 1950s Jonas Salk developed the first successful polio vaccine.
1954 American surgeons transplanted a kidney -- the first successful organ transplant.
1963 Michael DeBakey implanted the first artifical heart into a human.
1967 Christiaan Barnard performed the first successful human heart transplant.

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This page was last updated on 09/29/2017.