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Health & Medicine

The 20th century was a time of great improvements in public health. Vaccinations were developed to prevent many infectious diseases, and antibiotics controlled the bacterial infections that had previously made injuries, surgery, childbirth, and childhood diseases so deadly. Social and behavioral interventions reduced workplace accidents and cigarette smoking. Better treatments for common diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer have helped millions to lead longer, healthier lives. Today, the average life expectancy in the United States is approximately 80 years, compared to only 47 years in 1900, and public health specialists continue to work to spread these benefits worldwide.

Virginia Apgar

Virginia Apgar (1909-1974) was an American physician best known for the Apgar Score, a simple, rapid method for assessing newborn viability. Apgar was also a leader in the emerging field of anesthesiology during the 1940s and in the new field of teratology (the study of birth defects) after 1960.
(Available July 2006; press release, updated December 2006, May 2007, March 2008, January 2010, July 2011, January 2012, February 2013, December 2013, February 2015, September 2015, April 2016, September 2016)

Michael E. DeBakey

Michael E. DeBakey (1908-2008) was a legendary American surgeon, educator, and medical statesman. During a career spanning 75 years, his work transformed cardiovascular surgery, raised medical education standards, and informed national health care policy.
(Available February 2015; announcement, updated April 2015, September 2015, April 2016, September 2016)New!

Clarence Dennis

American surgeon Clarence Dennis (1909-2005) invented one of the first heart-lung bypass machines, and in 1951 was the first to use it to perform open-heart surgery. He was also an outstanding medical educator, first at the University of Minnesota, then at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and finally at SUNY Stony Brook.
(Available July 2011; announcement, updated January 2012, February 2013, December 2013, February 2015, September 2015, April 2016, September 2016)

Charles R. Drew

Charles R. Drew (1904-1950) was an African-American surgeon who has been called "the father of the blood bank." While best known for the blood bank work, Drew devoted much of his career to raising the standards of African American medical education at Howard University, and worked to break through the barriers that segregation imposed on black physicians.
(Available December 2010; announcement, updated July 2011, January 2012, February 2013, December 2013, February 2015, September 2015, April 2016, September 2016)

Edward D. Freis

Edward D. Freis (1912-2005) was an American cardiologist best known as the father of the first double-blind, multi-institutional controlled clinical trial of cardiovascular drugs which demonstrated that treating hypertension with medication could dramatically reduce disability and death from stroke, congestive heart failure, and other cardiovascular diseases.
(Available February 2006, updated July 2006, December 2006, May 2007, March 2008, January 2010, July 2011, January 2012, February 2013, December 2013, February 2015, September 2015, April 2016, September 2016)

C. Everett Koop

C. Everett Koop (1916-2013) was an American pediatric surgeon who during a forty-year medical career pioneered important improvements in the surgical treatment of children. As U.S. Surgeon General from 1981 to 1989, he turned the office into an authoritative platform from which to educate the nation on major public health concerns including smoking, violence, and, most urgently, AIDS.
(Available September 2004, updated August 2005, December 2005, July 2006, December 2006, May 2007, March 2008, January 2010, July 2011, January 2012, February 2013, December 2013, February 2015, September 2015, April 2016, September 2016)

William Osler

Sir William Osler (1849-1919) was a Canadian physician often called "the father of modern medicine" for the central role he played in revolutionizing medical education via the internship and residency system at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where medicine was taught "at the bedside." He was equally renowned as a superb diagnostician, a prolific author of medical and historical works (including his landmark textbook, The Principles and Practice of Medicine), an avid rare book collector, and an advocate for medical libraries.
(Available December 2013; announcement, updated February 2015, September 2015, April 2016, September 2016)

Wilbur A. Sawyer

Wilbur A. Sawyer (1879-1951) was an American public health administrator who played a key role in preventive medicine and international public health during the first part of the twentieth century. He developed the first effective yellow fever vaccine, and was one of the architects of the World Health Organization.
(Available September 2004, updated August 2005, December 2005, July 2006, December 2006, May 2007, March 2008, January 2010, July 2011, January 2012, February 2013, December 2013, February 2015, September 2015, April 2016, September 2016)

Fred L. Soper

Fred L. Soper (1893-1977), was an American epidemiologist and public health administrator who won a Lasker Award in 1946 for organizing successful campaigns to eradicate yellow fever and malaria between 1927 and 1945.
(Available May 2003; press release, updated August 2005, December 2005, July 2006, December 2006, May 2007, March 2008, January 2010, July 2011, January 2012, February 2013, December 2013, February 2015, September 2015, April 2016, September 2016)

Reports of the Surgeon General

The Reports of the Surgeon General contains official reports, conference and workshop reports, and proceedings from the Office of the Surgeon General. Included are the 1964 Report on Smoking and Health, reports on AIDS, smoking, disease prevention, violence, and children's health, among others.
(Available February 2002, updated August 2005, December 2005, July 2006, December 2006, May 2007, March 2008, January 2010, July 2011, January 2012, February 2013, December 2013, February 2015, September 2015, April 2016, September 2016)

Henry Swan

American Surgeon Henry Swan II (1913-1996) pioneered the use of hypothermia--cooling patients to a very low body temperature--to make possible the first open-heart surgeries. Swan performed hundreds of successful cardiac repairs using hypothermia to temporarily stop the heart. Swan was also an outstanding medical educator and the first full-time chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Colorado.
(Available January 2012; announcement, updated February 2013, December 2013, February 2015, September 2015, April 2016, September 2016)

Visual Culture and Health

Visual Culture and Health Images play a role in health education and disease prevention, and tell us about the history of health care and the world we live in.
(Available November 2003, updated August 2005, December 2005, July 2006, December 2006, May 2007, March 2008, January 2010, July 2011, January 2012, February 2013, December 2013, February 2015, September 2015, April 2016, September 2016)