Following is a general timeline of scientists and physicians who made important
contributions and discoveries to medicine throughout the ages.
General Timeline of First
• 460 B.C.–370 B.C. Hippocrates—
Greek physician who brought medicine out of darkness and superstition
and explained the world, for the first
time, in terms of nature, making man
responsible for his own welfare instead
of attributing his outcomes to the gods.
He is known as The Father of Medicine,
and many of the principles he taught
are well known today. One of his most
famous writings is the “Hippocratic
Oath,” which graduating medical students still recite today.
• 129 A.D.–200/217 A.D. Galen—
Roman (of Greek descent) who was a
physician and philosopher. His theories about the nervous and circulatory
systems dominated and influenced
Western medical science for nearly two
millennia as medical students studied
Galen’s writings well into the nineteenth century. His anatomical reports
(based on dissection of monkeys and
pigs) were uncontested until the 1500s.
Galen was the personal physician to
• 1510–1590 Ambroise Pare—French
barber surgeon who is considered one
of the Fathers of Surgery, especially in
•1511–1553 Michael Servetus—
Spanish theologian and physician and the
first European to understand and correctly describe pulmonary circulation.
Servetus participated in the Protestant Reformation, but his unorthodox
views were condemned by Catholics
and Protestants alike. He was brought
to trial in Protestant Geneva on the
charges of heresy and burned at the
stake by order of the Protestant Geneva governing council.
• 1514–1564 A.D. Andreas Vesalius—
Flemish anatomist/physician and
author of one of the most influential
books on human anatomy: De Humani
Corporis Fabrica/The Structure of the
Human Body. Vesalius is often referred
to as the Founder of Modern Human
Anatomy. He stole a skeleton hanging
from the gallows in France and also il-
legally conducted human dissections
on dead bodies in order to properly
understand the anatomy of the hu-
man body, thus denying many of Ga-
len’s theories. Though many physicians
throughout Europe enthusiastically
received the corrected findings that he
published and taught, Vesalius’s work
was seen as sacrilege by followers of
Galen and Vesalius was therefore vio-
lently opposed and denounced.
physician who was the first to prove
and describe that blood circulates in
a closed path caused by the beating of
the heart. Harvey dared to question
the thoughts of old physicians such as
• 1632–1723 Antoni van Leeuwen-
hoek—Dutch drapery maker and a sci-
entist and is considered to be the first
• 1749–1823 Edward Jenner—English
physician and scientist who was the
pioneer of the smallpox vaccine
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