By Tim Lambert

c. 2,700 BC Merit Ptah is a famous women doctor in Egypt

c. 2,600 BC Imhotep is a famous male doctor

1,500 BC The Ebers Papyrus is the first known medical book

500 BC Alcamaeon of Croton in Italy says that a body is healthy as long as it has the right balance of hot and cold, wet and dry. If the balance is upset the body falls ill.

460-377 BC Hippocrates lives. He stresses careful observation.

384-322 BC Aristotle lives. He says the body is made up of 4 humours or liquids, phlegm, blood, yellow bile and black bile.

130-200 AD The Roman doctor Galen lives. He becomes a very influential writer for centuries.

c 300 A woman called Metrodora writes a book called On the Diseases and Cures of Women

9th Century Hunain Ibn Ishaq translates Greek writings about medicine into Arabic

c. 1100 A famous woman doctor called Trota of Salerno lives

12th and 13th Centuries Schools of medicine are founded in Europe. In the 13th century barber-surgeons begin to work in towns. The church runs the only hospitals.

1493-1541 Paracelsus lives. He denounces all medical teaching not based on experience and experiment.

1536 Ambroise Pare mixes egg whites, rose oil and turpentine to put on wounds.

1543 Andreas Vesalius publishes The Fabric of the Human Body

1628 William Harvey publishes his discovery of how the blood circulates in the body

1658 Jan Swammerdan observes red blood corpuscles

1661 Marcello Malpighi discovers capillaries

1732 Laura Bassi is made professor of anatomy at Bologna University

1753 James Lind publishes his discovery that fresh fruit or lemon juice prevent scurvy

1796 Edward Jenner introduces vaccination against smallpox

1816 Rene Laennec invents the stethoscope

1842 Crawford Long uses ether as an anesthetic

1847 Chloroform is used as an anesthetic by James Simpson

1849 Elizabeth Blackwell is the first woman in the USA to qualify as a doctor

1851 The ophthalmoscope is invented

1853 Alexander Wood and Charles Pravaz invent hypodermic syringes

1854 John Snow discovers that cholera is spread by water

1865 Joseph Lister develops antiseptic surgery.

1880 Louis Pasteur invents a cure for chicken cholera

1884 Cocaine is used as a local anesthetic

1885 Pasteur cures rabies. The first successful appendectomy is performed.

1890 Immunization against diphtheria is discovered. Rubber gloves are first used in surgery.

1895 X-rays are discovered

1896 A vaccine for typhoid is discovered

1910 Salvarsan, a drug used to cure syphilis is discovered

1914 The first non-direct blood transfusion is made

1928 Penicillin is discovered by Alexander Fleming. The iron lung is invented.

1935 Protonsil is used to treat food poisoning

1943 The first artificial kidney machine is made

1953 Jonas Salk announces he has a vaccine for polio

1963 A vaccine for measles is discovered

1967 The first heart transplant is performed by Christiaan Barnard

1978 The first test tube baby is born

1983 MRI scanning is introduced


A modern hospital in Portsmouth

2005 The first face transplant takes place

2011 The first leg transplant takes place

2012 The first womb transplant takes place

A History of Medicine

A Timeline of Science

A Timeline of Surgery

A Timeline of Toilets