Tag Archives: George Dunea

Leonhard Thurneysser: scholar, alchemist, and miracle doctor

Leonard Thurneysser. Via The National Library of Medicine. A highly controversial figure even in his time, Leonhard Thurneysser remains to this very day for some a revered scientist and for others a resolute quack. Born 1531 in Basel, he was the son of a goldsmith and followed in his father’s profession. He also studied with […]

Encephalitis lethargica

Front page of Encephalitis lethargica. Its sequelae and treatment by Constantin Von Economo, 1931. Via Wikimedia. Encephalitis lethargica was a worldwide epidemic during the years 1918-1930 that resembled influenza. It was first described in Vienna in 1916 by Constantin von Economo in thirteen patients suffering from unusual neurological symptoms that he thought constituted a new […]

Selman Waksman, “father of antibiotics” and conquest of tuberculosis

[Dr. Selman Waksman, half-length portrait, facing left at work in the laboratory] / World Telegram & Sun photo by Roger Higgins. 1953. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Selman Abraham Waksman came to the United States in 1910 and worked for a few years on a farm in New Jersey. Born in a rural […]

Agricola’s De re metallica: an early description of industrial diseases

The “Father of Mineralogy,” Georgius Agricola. Via Wikimedia. Georg Bauer was born in Saxony in 1494 and went by the name of Georgius Agricola because in his time academicians often latinized their name, so that Bauer in German translated into Agricola, meaning peasant or farmer. He was a medical practitioner in a small mining town […]

Ivan Illich after almost half a century

Photo of Ivan Illich. Via Wikimedia. Ivan Illich died in 2002 and is now in danger of being forgotten. His famous book, Medical Nemesis,1 appeared in 1975 and captured the imagination and approbation of many. He was a vehement critic of the “medical establishment,” which he regarded as a threat to people’s health. He was […]

George Crile Sr., founder of the Cleveland Clinic

Portrait of G. W. Crile. Credit: Wellcome Collection. (CC BY 4.0) Early days George Crile was an exceptional man, a skilled surgeon who lived at a time when American medicine was emerging from its horse and buggy period and was embracing the principles of aseptic surgery and scientific medicine. Always full of new ideas, he was […]

Lawson Tait, father of aseptic surgery and gynecology

Robert Lawson Tait. via Wikimedia. Robert Lawson Tait was fifth in a dynasty of pioneers who helped transform surgery from a primitive craft to a sophisticated life-saving art. They all worked for a time at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary—James Syme (the “Napoleon of Surgery”), Robert Liston (“time me, gentlemen”), James Simpson (“made childbirth painless”), and […]

The men who defeated syphilis

German zoologist Fritz Schaudinn. Source Fritz Schaudinns, Verlag Leopold Voss, Hamburg und Leipzig 1911. Via Wikimedia. Beginnings The origins of syphilis have been subject to much debate. The disease has been claimed to be thousands of years old and originally to have evolved from yaws. Generally mistaken for leprosy and not recognized as a separate entity, […]

Fortunio Liceti (1577-1567)—Aristotelean teratologist

Fortunio Liceti’s mother was seven months pregnant when on a sea voyage to Rapallo (on the coast of Liguria) she went into labor—supposedly because of the motions of the ship. It has been said that her baby was so small that it fit into the palm of one hand. The father, a physician, placed it […]

Sympathectomy for hypertension

Components of the sympathetic trunk. Redrawn from Wolf-Heidegger’s Atlas of Human Anatomy. From Anatomic Origin and Molecular Genetics in Neuroblastoma. CC BY 3.0. Sympathectomy for essential hypertension was introduced in the late 1920s at a time when no effective medical treatment was available. It consisted of resecting several sympathetic neurons that exit the spinal cord […]