Archaeologists Discover Parasite Described by Hippocrates to Infect Ancient Greeks

Earliest archaeological evidence of intestinal parasitic worms infecting the ancient inhabitants of Greece confirms descriptions found in writings associated with Hippocrates, the early physician and ‘father of Western medicine’. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 07.28.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Ancient faeces from prehistoric burials on the Greek island of Kea have provided the first archaeological[…]

Could Ancient Textbooks Be the Source of the Next Medical Breakthrough?

Voynich Manuscript. / Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University, Wikimedia Commons Can we hope to find new remedies by studying ancient medical texts? By Dr. Laurence Totelin / 10.07.2015 Lecturer in Ancient History Cardiff University The discovery that won the latest Nobel Prize for Medicine wouldn’t have been much of a revelation to doctors in ancient China. Pharmaceutical chemist[…]

A History of Mental Illness

An illustrated scene at Bedlam from Hogarth’s series of paintings ‘A Rake’s Progress’ / Wikimedia Commons A history of mental illness from the Stone Age to the 20th century. By Dr. Ingrid Farreras Professor of Psychology Chair, Department of Psychology Hood College References to mental illness can be found throughout history. The evolution of mental illness,[…]

Literally “Like a Hole in the Head”: Trephination in the Ancient World

A Neolithic (3500 BCE) skull showing evidence of a trephination operation – the removal of a part of the cranium to relieve pressure, used as a medical treatment for a variety of ailments from migraines to mental illness. The treatment was used in many ancient cultures. (Natural History Museum, Lausanne). / Photo by Jmh649, Wikimedia Commons A surgical intervention where[…]

History of the Flu

The Plague at Ashdod, by Nicolas Poussin / Louvre Museum, Wikimedia Commons The word influenza is derived from the medieval Italian word for “influence” (influentia) and referred to the perceived causes of the disease. By Jim Davis / 03.15.2017 PhD Candidate in History The Ohio State University You may not like getting your flu shot, but you[…]

From Iron Lung to Independence

By Dr. Gabrielle Chapman / 06.23.2015 Associate Dean, Graduate School Syracuse University In September 1955 at the age of six, Mark O’Brien was roused from his sleep by a sharp pain in the pit of his stomach. His parents immediately phoned a doctor and rushed him to Boston Children’s Hospital. His memory of that night[…]

Synthetic Organs, Nanobots, and DNA ‘Scissors’: The Future of Medicine

Nanobots that patrol our bodies, killer immune cells hunting and destroying cancer cells, biological scissors that cut out defective genes: these are just some of technologies that Cambridge researchers are developing which are set to revolutionise medicine in the future. 10.12.2017 In a new film to coincide with the recent launch of the Cambridge Academy of[…]

Five Bloodcurdling Medical Procedures that are No Longer Performed … Thankfully!

Kunstmuseum St Gallen/Wikimedia Commons If the thought of undergoing surgery fills you with dread, spare a thought for your forebears. By Dr. Adam Taylor / 05.18.2017 Director of the Critical Anatomy Learning Centre Senior Lecturer in Anatomy Lancaster University Surgeries and treatments come and go. A new BMJ guideline, for example, makes “strong recommendations” against the use[…]

In a World with No Antibiotics, How Did Doctors Treat Infections?

Bloodletting was treatment for infection in the past. Wellcome Library, London, CC BY While some ancient therapies proved effective enough that they are still used in some form today, on the whole they just aren’t as good as modern antimicrobials at treating infections. By Dr. Cristie Columbus / 01.29.2016 Associate Dean Campus – Dallas Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine Texas A&M University The development of antibiotics and[…]

Andreas Vesalius: The Man Who Revolutionized Our Knowledge of the Human Body

Drawn directly from the flesh. Public Domain Review/Flickr, CC BY-SA By Dr. Richard Gunderman / 12.31.2014 Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis Andreas Vesalius authored one of the most elegant and influential books in scientific history. His investigations revolutionized our understanding of the interior of the human body and the methods physicians use to[…]

Hippocrates Didn’t Write the Oath, So Why is He the Father of Medicine?

Not the one we have fixed in our imaginations. Peter Paul Rubens, 1638 Hippocrates is considered the father of medicine, enemy of superstition, pioneer ofrationality and fount of eternal wisdom. By Dr. Helen King / 10.02.2014 Professor of Classical Studies The Open University Hippocrates is considered the father of medicine, enemy of superstition, pioneer of rationality and fount of eternal wisdom. Statues and drawings show him with a furrowed[…]

The Story of Maximo and Bartola: Apollo and the Aztecs

A baby with an encephalocele. Photograph by F.A. Hudson, 1869. Wellcome Library reference no. 34335i.3. By Dr. William Schupbach / 06.27.2016 Historian Microcephaly is a word that has come from nowhere to the newspapers’ front pages in a surprisingly short time, owing to the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil coinciding with the preparations for the Olympic Games in Rio[…]

Severed Limbs and Wooden Feet: How the Ancients Invented Prosthetics

By Dr. Jane Draycott / 05.17.2017 Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Research Fellow in Classics: Ancient Science and Technology University of Glasgow We are living through an incredibly exciting period for prosthetics. A pioneering brain computer interface that will allow veterans to control artificial body parts with their minds was recently announced by researchers in Virginia in the[…]

A Great Deal of Dying in Dr. Herz

Dr Cornelius Herz escapes extradition on the ground that he has a terminal illness, and lives happily in Bournemouth for fifteen years. Watercolour drawing by H.S. Robert, c. 1897. Wellcome Library no. 532785i By Dr. Richard Aspin / 12.04.2016 Head of Research Wellcome Library In 1893 a middle-aged American physician lay ‘dying’ in a Bournemouth hotel. Cornelius Herz[…]

Dutch Anatomy and Clinical Medicine in 17th-Century Europe

Entrance to Boerhaave Museum, Leiden, Netherlands / Photo by Erik Zachte, Wikimedia Commons By Dr. H.G. (Rina) Knoeff / 06.20.2012 Associate Professor of Early Modern History University of Groningen Introduction The Leiden University medical faculty was famous in 17th-century Europe. Students came from all over Europe to sit at the feet of the well-known medical teachers Peter[…]

Civil War Battlefield Medicine

Compiled by Jenny Goellnitz An Introduction to Civil War Medicine During the 1860s, doctors had yet to develop bacteriology and were generally ignorant of the causes of disease. Generally, Civil War doctors underwent two years of medical school, though some pursued more education. Medicine in the United States was woefully behind Europe. Harvard Medical School[…]

When Chocolate was Medicine: Colmenero, Wadsworth, and Dufour

Poseidon taking chocolate from Mexico to Europe, a detail from the frontispiece to Chocolata Inda by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, 1644 — National Institute of Health Chocolate has not always been the common confectionary we experience today. When it first arrived from the Americas into Europe in the 17th century it was a rare and mysterious substance, thought[…]

How Rejuvenation of Stem Cells Could Lead to Healthier Aging By Dr. Elisa Lazarri / 01.16.2018 Postdoctoral Associate in Biomedical Sciences Cornell University “Rampant” and “elderly” are words rarely used in the same sentence, unless we are talking of the percentage of people over 65 years old worldwide. Life expectancy has considerably increased, but it is still unknown how many of those years are going to[…]

Denis Burkitt’s Safari Diaries and Contribution to Medicine

Denis Burkitt / Wellcome Library Denis Parsons Burkitt (1911-1993), while posted at the Mulago Hospital and Makerere Medical School in Kampala, Uganda, in the 1950s and 1960s, was the first to describe a childhood cancer which became known as Burkitt’s lymphoma. By Amanda Engineer / 08.23.2016 Project Archivist, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Archive Wellcome Library Archivist From[…]

Medieval Banking- Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries

Image of banking from a medieval illuminated manuscript By Robert Naranjo / 01.10.2008 Modern banking has its auspicious beginnings in the early to mid Middle Ages. Primitive banking transactions existed before, but until the economic revival of the thirteenth century they were limited in scope and occurrence. By the dawn of the twelfth and thirteenth[…]

Influenza Pandemics Now, Then, and Again

In 2005, Dr. Terrence Tumpey, a Center for Disease Control Microbiologist, examines recreated 1918 Pandemic Influenza Virus to help understand its particularly deadly effects. By studying past pandemics, and the successes and failures of social and medical responses to end them, policy-makers and scientists hope to ameliorate the ill effects of the next flu pandemic[…]