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We are Living in the Golden Age of Medicine

Modern medicine has improved the life span as well as the Quality of life.  Every thing for the discovery of antibiotics to the manipulation of genes has made this possible.  Three of the Discoveries that have had the greatest impact:

Use of Penicillin

The AntiBiotic Penicillin was discovered in the year 1928.  It became the #1 way to cure infections in 1942.  The fact of the matter, it is the most important drug discovery in the history of modern medicine. This miracle drug ushered in the era of antibiotics.  Hence the advances in therapeutic medicine.  In fact, there’s a good chance that many people would not be able to read this if not for penicillin.  

Basic Aspirin

Basic Aspirin is a top-tier wonder drug.  This pill can do everything.  Mostly used for headache relief as well as  muscle pain .  New research has shown it to reduce your risk of death from a heart attack.  Brought to market in 1899 by  Bayer AG.  It is commonly today.

Birth Control 

Contraception was not talked about in the 1920’s.  A scientist named, Ludwig Haberlandt, first came up wit the idea of using hormones to prevent pregnancy.   In 1960 birth control pills were approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  This pill introduced the sexual revolution.


The earliest known document mentioning concave lenses being used for correcting myopia was a letter from the Duke of Milan to his ambassador in Florence ordering three dozen eyeglasses, including “a dozen that are suitable for near vision, that is for the elderly.”

 Flexible Catheter

Benjamin Franklin invented the flexible catheter, made of hinged metal segments, for his brother John, who suffered from bladder stones. Previously, catheters had been hard tubes, jammed into the bladder through the urethra.


René Laënnec, a French physician, invented the stethoscope, a trumpet-shaped wooden tube, to examine a very fat woman whose heart he could not hear by pressing his ear to her chest.


Dr. Crawford W. Long performed the first operation using diethyl ether as an anesthetic. He pressed an ether-soaked towel against the patient’s face to put him to sleep, then removed one of two tumors from his neck. He billed the patient $2, itemizing the cost of the ether as well as the operation.

Brain Waves

Using a galvanometer, the British scientist Richard Caton noted electrical impulses from the brains of animals, laying down the principles that would lead to the development of the electroencephalogram, or EEG.


Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, a German physicist, discovered the X-ray, an invention so remarkable that many did not believe the first reports of its use. The New York Times referred to it mockingly as Dr. Röntgen’s “alleged discovery of how to photograph the invisible.”


Dr. Willem Einthoven of the Netherlands invented the first practical electrocardiogram. The original weighed 600 pounds, had a water cooling system for its gigantic electromagnets and needed five operators. In 1924 he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his invention.


Dr. Hans Christian Jacobaeus, a Swedish internist, performed the first laparoscopy on a human. He punctured the abdominal walls of 17 patients, using cocaine as a local anesthetic, and removed fluid from their abdomens. After removing the fluid, he examined the cavities with a cytoscope.


Dr. Hans Berger of Germany recorded the first human electroencephalogram, or EEG. His assertion that the brain’s electrical impulses could be recorded was generally met with derision, and five years passed before Dr. Berger published his technique for recording the electrical activity of the human brain from the surface of the head.


António Egas Moniz, a Portuguese neurologist, performed the first modern lobotomy, the severing of neural connections in the brain’s frontal cortex to treat delusional or violent patients. He was not a trained surgeon. The operation was soon found useless and destructive and is no longer practiced, but in 1948 Moniz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for his invention.


Dr. Albert S. Hyman demonstrated a heart pacemaker. The device was about 10 inches long and weighed less than a pound; it supplied the heart with a current with adjustable voltage. The device, Dr. Hyman said, had been used in seven cases, although the results were good in only two of them.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

An Italian professor of neuropsychiatry, Dr. Ugo Cerletti, and his colleague Lucio Bini administered electroconvulsive therapy to a human patient for the first time. Of four physical therapies to treat mental illness developed in the 1930s, insulin coma therapy, Metrazol convulsive therapy, lobotomy and electroconvulsive therapy, only electroconvulsive therapy is still in use.



Willem J. Kolff, a Dutch physician, built the first dialysis machine, working with tin cans and parts from washing machines during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Although his first few attempts were failures, Dr. Kolff did finally develop a useful machine in the 1950s while working with colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic.

Disposable Catheter

David S. Sheridan, a man with an eighth-grade education working in a floor refinishing business, invented the disposable catheter, a hollow plastic tube designed to be used once and discarded. He founded four successful companies, held more than 50 patents and died in 2004, at age 95.

Cardiac Defibrillation

A Cleveland cardiovascular surgeon, Claude Beck, successfully defibrillated the heart of a 14-year-old boy during cardiac surgery, bringing an apparently dead person back to life. Although the principle of defibrillation had been known for decades, this was probably its first successful clinical application.

Intraocular Lens

Dr. Harold Ridley, a British ophthalmologist, implanted the first permanently placed intraocular lens to correct cataract.

Mechanical Heart

Henry Opitek, 41, was operated on using an artificial heart, the Dodrill GMR heart machine, manufactured by General Motors and generally considered the first mechanical heart. The surgeon, Dr. Forest Dewey Dodrill, successfully repaired the patient’s mitral valve, and Mr. Opitek lived until 1981.

 Magnetic Resonance

The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Felix Bloch and Edward Mills Purcell for their work in developing nuclear magnetic resonance, the principle behind M.R.I. machines.

Heart-Lung Bypass

Dr. John Heysham Gibbon used his new invention, the heart-lung bypass machine, for the first time in open-heart surgery, completely supporting a patient’s heart and lung functions for about half the time of the surgery. It was the culmination of his decades of work in developing the machine.


Cochlear Prosthesis

Dr. André Djourno of France developed a cochlear prosthesis, a method of stimulating the cochlear nerve in deaf people. It was the beginning of the long road to the development of effective cochlear implants. In 1957, he performed the first cochlear implantation. He believed that medical devices should remain in the public domain and refused to patent his invention.

Kidney Transplant

In the first successful kidney transplant, after at least nine failures, a team of surgeons at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston transplanted a kidney from a 24-year-old man to his twin brother. The recipient lived 11 years more, and in 1990 the lead surgeon, Dr. Joseph E. Murray, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology.


Dr. Seymour Furman, a cardiologist at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, succeeded in extending a patient’s life by more than two months using a cardiac pacemaker, a large machine to which the patient was attached by a 50-foot extension cord. By the next year, portable versions of the machine were in use.

Fetal Ultrasound

Dr. Edward Hon of Yale reported using a Doppler monitor on a woman’s abdomen to detect fetal heartbeat. Ultrasound’s principles had been known for more than a century (a Swedish physicist, Christian Andreas Doppler, gave his name to the phenomenon in 1842), but this was its first use in prenatal care.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

Dr. Thomas J. Fogarty came up with the idea for the balloon embolectomy catheter for removing blood clots, and used it on a patient six weeks later. It was the first minimally invasive surgery technique.

Artificial Heart

Paul Winchell, the ventriloquist and inventor, patented the first artificial heart, developed in collaboration with Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, later famous for the Heimlich maneuver.

 Liver Transplant

The first human liver transplant was performed by Dr. Thomas E. Starzl. The patient, a 3-year-old child, rapidly bled to death.

Portable Defibrillator

Dr. Frank Pantridge installed the first portable defibrillator in an ambulance in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It weighed 150 pounds and was powered by car batteries.

 Commercial Ultrasound

Walter Erich Krause of the Siemens Corporation filed a patent for the first practical commercial ultrasound machine. According to the patent, his machine could be “used for practical ultra-sonic-optical examination to achieve a lifelike reproduction of the body part under examination.”

From left: Dr. Christiaan Barnard, Dr. Michael DeBakey and Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz, with a model of a human heart.Associated Press

Heart Transplant

Dr. Christiaan Barnard, a South African, performed the first human heart transplant. The patient, a 53-year-old man, died 18 days later.


Dr. Raymond V. Damadian announced that he had patented a technique using nuclear magnetic resonance to distinguish between normal and cancerous tissue. In 2003, two other researchers won a Nobel Prize for further discoveries.

Peter Thompson for The New York Times

Synthetic Blood

The first synthetic blood, Fluosol-DA, was approved for human use. It was withdrawn from the market in 1994. The search for a blood substitute goes on, and there is none in use in clinical practice.

DNA Sequencing

Dr. Leroy E. Hood patents his invention of the automated DNA sequencing technique. The patent is owned by the California Institute of Technology.

 Imaging Thought

A paper in the journal Magnetic Resonance Medicine by a group of researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin announced the first use of functional magnetic resonance imaging to detect brain blood flow in conjunction with a human mental activity.

Human Genome

The first draft of the human genome was announced. Three years later, it was declared complete three years later.

Adaptive Artificial Knee

The Rheo knee, a plastic prosthetic joint that adapts to a user’s walking style and changes in terrain, was produced by the Ossur Corporation.

Artificial Liver

Dr. Colin McGucklin and Dr. Nico Forraz of Newcastle University developed a liver grown from stem cells. The size of a small coin, it was not an organ that could be implanted in a human.