Tag Archives: Moments in History

Jean Cruveilhier – first described the lesions of multiple sclerosis

Jean Cruveilhier was born in 1791 in Limoges, France, the son of a military surgeon. He had intended to become a priest but changed his mind at the insistence of his father and became a doctor, graduating from the University of Paris in 1816. In 1823 he was appointed professor of surgery at the University of […]

Otto Kahler, Bence Jones, and multiple myeloma

Dr. Otto Kahler (1849-1893) was inducted into the pantheon of eponymy for reporting in 1889 the details of a patient suffering from multiple myeloma. Born and educated in Prague, Kahler became a professor of medicine in his home town, but in 1889 moved to a similar professorial position in Vienna. Influenced during a sabbatical in […]

The ligament of Vaclav Treitz

Vaclav Treitz (1819-1872) was born in Bohemia, studied humanities at the Charles University in Prague, and obtained his medical degree from there in 1846. He then furthered his education at the New or Second Vienna School under the great luminaries of the time, Karl Rokitansky, Joseph Skoda, and Ferdinand von Hebra. He specifically worked in […]

Erasistratus

Erasistratus  (304–250 BC) founded a school of anatomy in Alexandria, where he described  the valves of the heart; concluded that the heart functioned as a pump; and distinguished between arteries and veins. He believed that the arteries were full of air and that they carried the “animal spirit” ; appears to have almost  discovered  the circulation of the blood: and […]

Gerard van Swieten and his reforms

A massive statue in Vienna shows the empress Maria Theresia, imperial in bronze as she had been in life, surrounded by her generals and by an ennobled Dutch physician, the Baron Gerard van Swieten. She had recruited him from the medical department of the great Herman Boerhaave in Leiden, and he had come to Vienna […]

The philosopher’s dementia

To be the world’s greatest philosopher in the prime of life is no guarantee against developing the ravages of dementia in old age. This is what happened to Immanuel Kant, a little man scarcely five feet tall followed by a devoted servant with an umbrella, who would take his daily walk at so regular an […]

Percussion of the chest: Leopold Auenbrugger

Percussion for examination of the chest was first described in 1754 in a little book written in Latin as ” a new discovery that enables the physician from the percussion of the human thorax to detect the diseases hidden within the chest”. At publication the book was ignored and percussion received little attention until popularized […]

The most loathsome disease of the emperor Galerius

“His disease was occasioned by a very painful lingering disorder. His body, swelled by an intemperate course of life to an unwieldy corpulence, was covered with ulcers, and devoured by innumerable swarms of those insects who have given the name to a most loathsome disease.” – Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman […]

A colorful but tyrannical chief

Old building of the Peking Union Medical College in Beijing   The great professor of medicine with the Charles Boyer accent would make ward rounds followed by some thirty students living in constant fear of being publicly humiliated. “You” he would say “where do you come from ?” – and wherever it was he would […]

Edward Jenner and the dairymaid

Small pox has plagued mankind since time immemorial, causing huge epidemics with great loss of life and often changing the course of history. The disease could be prevented or ameliorated by variolation, the subcutaneous inoculation with fluid from smallpox lesions into non-immune individuals. Variolation had been used for centuries, even for members of royal families. […]