5 Famous Doctors Who Shaped 21st Century Medicine
Published Dec 7, 2020
If there are people who deserve humanity’s everlasting gratitude, it’s our doctors. Their hard work and dedication have, without a doubt, made our lives infinitely better.
The 21st century, in particular, has seen medical advancements that some of us have never thought possible. It’s only a little over two decades since the start of the century, yet we have certainly made huge leaps. From treating cancer to transplanting faces, all these used to be just a dream. Yet now, we are seeing those dreams become a reality.
In honor of these unsung heroes, here are 5 famous doctors whose discoveries shaped 21st-century medicine:
1. Brian Druker
An oncologist by profession, Dr. Brian Druker is mainly known for revolutionizing the treatment of cancer. His research led to the development of a drug that kills cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. This discovery turned what once was a fatal condition into a more manageable one.
The drug also paved the way for more research on targeted therapies. There are more than 50 precision therapies for other types of cancer currently in the pipeline. This established Dr. Druker as a pioneer in the relatively new field of precision medicine.
Today, he is studying the use of precision medicine in the early detection of cancers. Detecting cancers as early as possible increases the patient’s survival rate.
2. Carlo Urbani
Dr. Carlo Urbani is best known as the hero doctor who fought SARS – and to die from it. If not for him, SARS would have become a global pandemic much worse than COVID.
Before the SARS breakout, Dr. Urbani was already a distinguished physician and microbiologist. While working in Italy, he helped launch a campaign against overpriced medicines. He was also part of the movement called Doctors Without Borders.
In February 2003, Urbani was called to Vietnam when an American businessman fell ill with what seemed to be a bad case of flu. Upon further examination, he concluded that it’s a new and highly contagious virus strain.
He alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) immediately, triggering a swift response. He also advised the Vietnamese doctors to isolate their patients. This swift and decisive action enabled the authorities to end the disease in just 5 months.
3. Helene Gayle
A staunch advocate of health and humanitarian issues, Dr. Helene Gayle is the CEO of Chicago Community Trust. After her 20-year stint at the CDC, she worked for various organizations both private and public. She was even Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General in the U.S. Public Health Service once.
Working for various charitable organizations, Dr. Gayle had directed programs for various global health issues. But her main focus is on combatting HIV/AIDS, especially in poor communities. She also worked on various grassroots programs aimed at empowering underprivileged girls and women around the world.
Her work earned her various recognitions from international organizations. This includes Forbes’ “100 Most Influential Woman” and Newsweek’s “Top 10 Women in Leadership”.
Since the first successful organ transplant in the 1950s, the procedure has become a staple in modern medicine. But Dr. Dubernard took it a step farther.
He performed the first successful hand and arm transplant in 1998. Seven years later, he outdid himself by performing the world’s first successful face transplant. Despite the criticisms, these risky procedures established Dr. Dubernard as a household name in transplantation science.
A visionary Biophysics professor at Harvard, Dr. John (Jack) Belliveau is credited with using the world’s first functional MRI (fMRI). His groundbreaking method paved the way for researchers to map the human brain. It also set in motion the entire field of fMRI and opened up a world of possibilities.
Today, fMRI has been very instrumental in understanding how the brain works. It enabled researchers to identify which part of the brain is responsible for which activity. This knowledge helps doctors assess the brain function of a coma or stroke patient. It’s also very useful in monitoring a progressive condition like dementia.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a firm believer in the power of knowledge when it comes to whole body donation and she wants to share her experience with the world. She also loves to write about food and art.