The ever-evolving field of medicine is responsible for some of the most life changing technological advancements and historical milestones in human history.
The five medical discoveries mentioned below permanently altered the human condition. Though many of these discoveries are taken for granted today, their impact dramatically improved the quality of life for humans.
The birth control movement in the United States was lead by Emma Goodman and her group of “radicals” who decided to educate women about contraception in an attempt to control the number of unwanted pregnancies. Ultimately Goodman’s efforts resulted in the creation of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which was formed in 1942.
4. Smallpox Vaccination
Smallpox decimated communities all over the globe for thousands of years. The smallpox vaccine was actually the first vaccine ever developed and the first attempt to control an infectious disease. Edward Jenner introduced the vaccine after observing that milkmaids previously infected with cowpox built up an immunity to smallpox.
The germ theory simply states that some diseases are caused by microorganisms. The discovery of germ theory changed the way humans think altogether. French chemist Louis Pasteur achieved scientific proof of the theory when he determined that microbes were responsible for souring alcohol. A breakthrough in germ theory came in 1854 when John Snow was able to link a cholera outbreak to a specific water pump in London.
Alexander Fleming pioneered the discovery of Penicillin when he was searching for a way to destroy bacteria in 1928. Like many great discoveries in human history, Penicillin was discovered accidentally and was not immediately accepted by the general public. As he prepared to take a holiday, Fleming made two mistakes. He did not sterilize his plates before leaving, and he left the windows of his lab open. Thus the foundation for the discovery was set. Later, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain were able to completely cure a 15 year-old boy who was infected after an operation. The luck of Fleming has saved millions of lives to date.
James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the structure of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) in 1953 by continuing the work of scientific pioneers before them. The discovery of the double helix, twisted-ladder structure of DNA gave rise to modern molecular biology. DNA allows us to answer some of life’s greatest questions including why we are who we are. Watson and Crick were awarded a Nobel Piece prize for their profound discovery.