Medicine's 10 Greatest Discoveries. : The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

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Medicine's 10 Greatest Discoveries.

The Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease 188(2):p 125-126, February 2000.
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Friedman, Meyer, and Friedland, Gerald W. Medicine's 10 Greatest Discoveries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998. xiii + 263 pp. $30.00.

This account of ten major advances in medical science is the work of the discoverer of Type A behavior and its relation to heart disease (Friedman), and a professor emeritus of radiology at Stanford (Friedland). Entertaining as well as instructive, it rates curiosity and methodological investigation over genius as essential to the greatest discoveries in the history of Western medicne.

It is unlikely that all readers will agree with the authors' choice of "the greatest" discoveries. However, none will disagree about their historical and scientific significance. In chronological order they are: Andreas Vesalias's anatomy of the human body (1543) with its presentation of the scientific method; William Harvey's description of the functions of the heart and the circulation of the blood (1628); Anton Leeuwenhoek's use of the microscope to identify bacteria (1675); Edward Jenner's discovery of vaccination (1796); Crawford Long's development of surgical anesthesia through the use of ether (1842); Wilhelm Roentgen's discovery of x-rays for diagnostic purposes (1895); Ross Harrison's invention of tissue culture (1907); Nikolai Anichkov's discovery of the role of cholesterol in coronary artery disease (1912); Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin (1928); and Maurice Wilkins' isolation of a single fiber of DNA (1950-53).

Readers of this Journal should note that the authors expect cures for schizophrenia and manic-depressive disease in the forseeable future.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.