Reviewed by Jean Worsley
Retired Biology Teacher
In this concise compendium, readers are introduced to forty–two notable men and women—philosophers, scientists, physicians, teachers, nurses, and inventors who advanced medicine and health care. This historical timeline spans from the Classical Era of Ancient Greece and Rome to the 21st century and crosses many cultures and countries.
In interesting biographical sketches of these pioneers, the author takes readers on a journey through their early years, educational experiences, trials and tribulations as they pursued their lifelong ambitions. For many years, religion and superstitions thwarted the progress of medicine. Readers will be awed as they envision the first inoculation by Edward Jenner. Can you imagine what Jenner would have faced if the experiment had not been successful? These courageous men and women were indeed “risk takers”. In spite of obstacles faced, they had the conviction dedication, and tenacity to persevere. During the last two centuries, vaccinations have eradicated many diseases globally.
Succinct descriptions of achievements in the fields of anatomy, physiology, chemistry, pathology, psychology, genetics and microbiology are delineated. Terminal illness, neurological disorders, pandemics and birth control were also included. One of the major tools that helped to advance the study of medicine was the microscope. It is noted that the Germ Theory of Disease credited to Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch was perhaps one of the major milestones influencing the advancement of medicine. This led to improved methods of sanitation and antiseptic surgical methods. Another milestone was the discovery of DNA by Francis Crick and James Watson which led to the Human Genome Project spearheaded by geneticist Francis Collins. As a result, medical research is focusing on a personal level today. These pioneers were truly multitasked as they experimented, formulated theories, invented tools, improved techniques, kept journals, published articles and books.
Readers become aware of the fact that communication among these pioneers was a major factor because advancements in medicine were built on prior innovations and discoveries. Further, they taught and researched in medical schools and universities, worked in hospitals, and were the recipient of fellowships and numerous awards including the Nobel Prize in Medicine and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A discussion of sources of funding includes private foundations, governmental agencies such as NIH (National Institute of Health) and international organizations such as WHO (World Health Organization).
Young readers may be interested in asking these questions? What vaccinations have I had? Who discovered the vaccination? Do my parents take flu shots? Why do I need to wash my hands? This is an excellent resource to emphasize the importance of practicing good health habits. This book has striking portraits of pioneers at work and treating patients. A short conclusion, glossary, references for more information, and a list of further reading and index are included. Mappings places of birth of these pioneers would be an excellent enrichment activity in social studies for readers.
Review posted on 1/4/2013