Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Schaffhause Trio

Wepfer, Peyer and Brunner were referred to as the Schaffhause trio since they lived, worked and made contributions together in the field of anatomy, pathology, and medicine at the town of Schaffhause in Switzerland.

Johan Jakob Wepfer (1620 -1695) Swiss physician, pathologist and pharmacologist, chiefly remembered for his work on the vascular anatomy of the brain, and his study of cerebrovascular disease. He was the first to hypothesize that the effects of stroke are caused by bleeding or blockage of arteries in the brain. He wrote a classic treatise on stroke, Historicae apoplecticolrum. Wepfer also made important contributions in the field of toxicology, and suggested that mercury, arsenic and antimony, which were widely used in medicine during his time, were harmful to the body than curative.

Peyer's Patches
Johan Conrad Payer (1653 - 1712) Swiss anatomist and physician, who first described the eponymous Peyer's patches, aggregations of lymphoid tissue in the ileum of the small intestine. Peyer's patches are supposed to be responsible for immune surveillance and antigen presentation & sensitization. Though important in immunity, hypertrophy of Peyer's patches has been implicated in idiopathic intussusception and a heightened susceptibility to prion diseases. Salmonella infection also targets these lymphoid nodules in the small intestine. Peyer also wrote an important work on veterinary medicine.

Joseph Conrad Brunner (1653 - 1727) Swiss anatomist, and son in law of Wepfer. He is remembered for the tubuloalveolar glands in the submucosa of the duodenum that are named after him. Two disorders are associated with these Brunner's glands, hyperplasia and adenoma.

Arturo Belleza Rotor

Arturo Rotor
Arturo Belleza Rotor (1907 - 1988) Filipino doctor, pianist, writer and civil servant. A man of many talents, Rotor was the first to describe a rare form of hyperbilirubinaemia that is now known as Rotor's syndrome. He also founded the field of allergology as a specialist branch of medicine. Rotor was also a highly accomplished pianist, and one of the most important short story writers of the Philippines (his collected works include The Wound and the Scar, and The Men Who Play God). Among his wide interests were also orchids, and a variety of orchid of the genus Vanda is named after him. On a side note, his brother Gavino Rotor was a renowned expert on orchids and their propagation and the genus of orchids called Rotorara is named after Gavino.

Barry Marshall & Robin Warren

Barry Marshall & Robin Warren
Barry Marshall (1951 - ), an Australian physician and Robin Warren (1937 - ) an Australian Pathologist were responsible for proving that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori is responsible for causing most of the peptic ulcers, reversing decades of medical doctrine that ulcers were caused by stress, spicy foods and too much of gastric acid. Warren also helped develop an easily performed diagnostic test for the presence of Helicobacter pylori, the C-urea breath-test. For their work in establishing the role of the bacterium in most gastric and peptic ulcers, they were awarded the Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2005.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Camillo Golgi

Camillo Golgi
Camillo Golgi (1843-1926) Italian physician, pathologist and neuroscientist, after whom the intracellular organelle, Golgi apparatus is named. He made important contributions to neuroscience by perfecting a method for staining the nervous system, using mainly silver (now known as the Golgi stain). His researches into neurohistology led to the eventual acceptance of the neuron doctrine. He also discovered a tendon sensory organ (Golgi receptor) and was the first to show that the distal nephron in the kidney returns to the glomerulus from where it originated. Camillo Golgi shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1906 with the famous Spanish neurologist, Santiago Ramon y Cajal. In the town of Pavia, where Golgi studied and worked, there are several landmarks standing in his memory.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Alcmaeon of Croton

Alcmaeon of Croton
Alcmaeon of Croton (6th century BCE) One of the most eminent natural philosophers and medical theorists of ancient Greece, his Concerning Nature is perhaps the oldest surviving Greek text on medicine. Alcmaeon was one of the foremost early anatomists who advocated dissection of human bodies, and he was the first to site the brain as the seat of the mind and that all senses in some way or the other owe their origin to it. Alcmaeon was also responsible for the theory that health and disease are the result of maintenance or disruption of equilibrium between various opposing humors in the body.

The Egyptian Papyri

Edwin Smith Papyrus
The Egyptian Papyri (circa 1825 - 1550 BCE) are a set of documents on various subjects, some of which are on medicine. Though none of the authors of these documents are known, the people behind their discovery and translation from hieroglyphic/hieratic system in which they were written to modern scripts and languages are an important part of the diverse history of medicine.

Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) English Egyptologist and pioneer of systematic methods in archeology discovered the Kahun Papyrus in 1889, one of the fragments of which, named the Kahun Gynecological
Papyrus, is considered the oldest treatise in medicine.

Francis Llewellyn Griffith (1862-1934) An eminent english egyptologist, he translated the Kahun Gynecological Papyrus in 1893, which was published as The Petrie Papyri: Hieratic Papyri from Kahun and Gurob.

Edwin Smith  (1822-1906) American dealer and collector of antiquities, after whom one of the most important historical documents in medicine is named. The Edwin Smith Papyrus describes various methods in trauma surgery and as such it is the oldest written surgical treatise. 

Jame Henry Breasted (1865-1935) American archeologist & historian, responsible for the translation of the Edwin Smith papyrus.

Georg Moritz Ebers (1837-1898) German Egyptologist & novelist, he discovered the medical papyrus named after him in 1873 at Luxor, which is among the most important of the ancient Egyptian medical papyri. The Ebers Papyrus, which describes various diseases along with their remedies, is the most voluminous text on egyptian medicine yet discovered. Georg Ebers was also a popular novelist, whose works did much to make the public familiar and more interested in ancient Egypt and its culture.


Hammurabi (1792 - 1750 BCE) the sixth ruler of Babylon, and the first of the Babylonian Empire, Hammurabi is known for a set of laws called the Hammurabi's Code (Codex Hammurabi), which are the earliest examples of codes of law in written history. Among other laws, Hammurabi's Code also laid out rules regarding the profession and practice of medicine. The one nearly complete stele of the Code of Hammurabi was discovered in 1901 by Gustave Jequier in the Susa Expedition, in what is now Khuzestan, Iran.


Lady Peseshet
Peseshet (circa 2400 BCE) Lady Peseshet, lady overseer of the female physicians, who lived under the Fourth Dynasty in ancient egypt, is supposed to have been the first female physician in all of recorded history, though another woman doctor, Merit-Ptah lived before her. Peseshet probably mastered in midwifery from the ancient medical school in Egypt at Sais. That whether she was a physician herself or she only oversaw the work of other midwives is not certain but she has been come to be regarded as the first woman doctor in the history of medicine.


Hunagdi (circa 2600 BCE) or the Yellow Emperor, was a legendary ruler of ancient China who is credited with the invention of the principles of traditional Chinese medicine. The Huangdi Neijing (Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor), an ancient classic of internal medicine, was said to be composed by Huagndi in collaboration with his chief physician Qibo, as a series of dialogues. The Huangdi Neijing has been of central importance to Chinese medicine for over two millennia and is considered in equal regard to the works of Hippocrates and Galen in the history of medicine.

Shen Nong

Shen Nong
Shen Nong (circa 2700 BCE) also known as the Emperor of the Five Grains or the Red Emperor, was a ruler of ancient China and cultural hero, considered the father of agriculture and medicine. He is reputed to have taught people the art of growing food by means of agriculture in order to avoid eating animals. He is said to have ingested hundreds and thousands of plants himself to discover their nature, thereby making him one of the first ancient herbalists. His discoveries of the various properties of plants were later assembled into a book, making it the earliest Chinese pharmacopoeia (The Divine Farmer's Herb-Root Classic). Shen Nong is also credited with the discovery of tea, and revered as the founder of acupuncture, a system of traditional Chinese medicine that uses the insertion of needles at specific predefined points on the body to cure various diseases, and also as a means to alleviate pain.

Fu Xi

Yin & Yang
Fu Xi (mid 2800s BCE) was the first of the Three Sovereigns of ancient China, who according to legend recreated mankind from clay on the Kunlun mountains with his sister Nuwa, after a great deluge sumbmerged the land and destroyed all humanity. He is reputed to be the originator of the I Ching, an ancinet text of divination & philosophy, which contains the concepts of yin and yang, a pair of complementary forces said to keep the universe in dynamic balance.

Personalities in Medicine

Personalities in medicine is a series of vignettes on the people who both illuminated and darkened the world of medicine, thereby making it a fascinating mixture of magic and truth, fact and fiction, art and science while entertaining and educating, sometimes healing, sometimes injuring, but all the time leaving a trail for the ones who came after, an adventurous road that has lead to where modern medicine stands today.