It’s good to be back! I’ve found it a bit hard to keep up with the flow of funny names lately, as I’ve been immersed in medicine. However, I’d like to take a brief moment to discuss some of the greatest names in medicine that I’ve learned so far.
Sir Percival Potts – He was the first person to recognize certain carcinogens or mutagens. He noticed a significant increase in cancer rates in chimney-sweeps, and the link between cancer and various carcinogens was found.
Reginald Punnett – He was a British geneticist who co-founded the Journal of Genetics with William Bateson in 1910. His most notable contribution to the field is probably the eponymous Punnett Square, which first year bio students have been grappling with for decades now.
Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, who lived only 47 years (1818-1865), but accomplished a remarkable amount during that time. The Hungarian obstetrician was one of the first to advocate hand-washing to prevent the spread of disease.
Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, better known as Paracelsus, railed against the ancient ideas of Hippocrates and Galen, who thought health was an imbalance of four humors – blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm. He was one of the first to pioneer the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine. He wReneas also one of the first to describe the dangers of metalworking, and is sometimes credited as being the first toxicologist.
René-Théophile-Hyacinthe Laennec – a French physician who invented the stethoscope in 1816. It had a trumpet-like end that amplified heart sounds, and transmitted them to the doctor’s ears via an air cavity in the stethoscope. He passed away at age 45 of tuberculosis, a disease that his colleagues diagnosed using a stethoscope.
Fun fact: prior to the stethoscope, doctors used to place their ear up directly to a patient’s chest. Lennec described this technique as “always inconvenient, both to the physician and the patient; in the case of females, it is not only indelicate, but often impractical.” What a gentleman!