Examining famous figures who have had great impact on medical research continues our series celebrating World Health Workers. We continue recognizing these amazing people with this post about some of those who have had a long reaching impact on modern medicine.
Virginia Apgar developed the Apgar Score.
Dr. Virginia Apgar (June 7, 1909 – August 7, 1974), an American physician, became the first female medical doctor to become a board certified anesthesiologist in 1937. At the time, anesthesiologist was a new specialization for doctors. Interested in obstetrics, she worked to reduce neonatal mortality rates while she worked at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.
By 1952, Apgar developed the Apgar score. This is a quick, simple way to evaluate whether or not newborn infants needed immediate medical care. By 1963, students used the name Apgar as a mnemonic device to remember the scoring system.
APGAR – Appearance (as in skin tone), Pulse (heart rate), Grimace (expression of irritability), Activity (movement) and Respiration.
Poor scores let physicians know that the infant needed immediate medical care.
Apgar’s Apgar score, used to save countless infant lives, began a lifetime of work. Her work in obstetrics made her interested in birth defects and how to prevent them. In 1959, Apgar began working for the March of Dimes. Her work there included programs to improve prenatal health, treatments for Rh incompatibility, and promoting vaccines.
Marie Curie discovered polonium and radium and researched radiation.
Dr. Marie Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934, née Maria Skłodowska), a Polish-born French physicist and mathematician, worked for the Sorbonne University in Paris. Curie began studying uranium in 1896, after Wihelm Rontgen discovered x-rays in 1895. She concluded that the x-rays came from uranium’s atomic structure and called the phenomenon radioactivity.
Curie’s hypothesis changed the way scientists thought of atoms. Until that point, scientists thought the atom the smallest component of matter. Through careful research, she discovered two additional elements: Polonium, which she named after her native country, and Radium.
Marie Curie, Pierre Curie, and Henri Becquerel were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Physics in 1903 for their work in radioactivity. Curie was the first woman to receive this prize. During World War I, Curie established 18 mobile x-ray stations. Used on the front lines, they were nicknamed the Petits Curies, or little Curies.
Gabriel Falloppio was an important Italian anatomist in the 16th century.
Gabriel Falloppio (1523 – October 9, 1562) examined the anatomy of human cadavers. Particularly interested in the head, bone development, and the reproductive systems, his work provided vital contributions to the science of anatomy.
Well known for his work on the reproductive system, Falloppio discovered the tubes that connect the uterus to the ovaries. Names for him, they are called Fallopian tubes. In addition to that discovery, he also named the vagina and the clitoris. Falloppio also confirmed the existence of the hymen. He studied the use of a sheath, or what we today would call a condom, to protect people from the sexually transmitted disease syphilis.
He worked with the nerves of the face and the workings of the ear. During his career, Falloppio described many of the key components to the ear. This includes the cochlea, the spiral shaped structure in the ear that plays an important part in hearing, and the canals of the inner ear used for equilibrium. The Fallopian Canal, also carring his name, is a channel in the face that is the longest bony nerve canal in the body.
Anthony Fauci is one of the worlds leading experts in infectious disease.
Dr. Anthony Fauci (24 December 1940 – present) is the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (HIAID). Part of the larger National Institute of Health (NIH), it is dedicated to the research, understanding, treating, and prevention of a wide range of diseases. Anthony Fauci currently serves on the US White House Coronavirus Task Force. Dr. Fauci has worked with six US presidents dealing with major viral diseases, including AIDS, SARS, Swine Flu, MERS, Ebola, and now Covid-19.
Fauci made important contributions to the fight against the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/ Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS). He researched both how the virus worked and methods to better control it. During this time, he worked with AIDS activists in order to help more people get access to experimental drugs to fight AIDS without jeopardizing the integrity of the clinical trials. Dr. Fauci played an important part in the creation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which helps people in developing countries fight AIDS. His work has saved millions of lives and permits AIDS patients to live full and active lives.
Fauci, as director of HIAID, oversees research to prevent and treat a number of other significant diseases. These include tuberculosis, malaria, diarrheal diseases, autoimmune disorders, and asthma. Understanding these diseases is vital. They can be life threatening and have a major impact on people’s lives.
Rosalind Franklin’s medical research lead to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.
Dr. Rosalind Franklin (25 July, 1920 – 16 April, 1958), a British chemist, specialized in taking pictures of atoms through a technique called x-ray diffraction. This technique hits crystals with x-rays and measures how much the x-rays are deflected. This allows the scientist to get a picture of the atomic structure of the crystal. Franklin took this technique and applied it to crystallized solids rather than single crystals.
While working at the King’s College London, Franklin used this technique on Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA). DNA is the organic molecule that has the genetic codes for all life. She discovered that DNA was shaped as a double helix, with phosphates on the outside edges. This information proved the key in understanding DNA.
At the same time Franklin conducted her research, Dr. James Watson, an American biologist, and Dr. Francis Crick, a British physicist, worked on a model of DNA at King’s College London. A colleague of Franklin’s, Dr. Maurice Wilkins, showed some of Franklin’s unpublished data to Watson and Crick without her permission. Building on previous DNA research and Franklin’s photos, they built the first accurate, 3-dimensional model of DNA. At the time, they did not give her work credit. After her death, Crick said that Franklin’s work had been crucial.
Dmitri Ivanovsky’s contribution to medical research was his discovery of viruses.
Dr. Dmitri Ivanovsky (9 November 1864 – 20 June 1920), a Russian microbiologist, began studying mosaic disease in tobacco while a student at the University of St Petersburg. Ivanovsky continued studying the disease at the University of St. Petersburg after he graduated with his doctorate.
Scientists believed bacteria caused mosaic disease. Because of this, Ivanovsky created a solution of the disease agent and filtered it through a Chamberland filter. This filter, made of porcelain, has pores so minuscule that it can filter out bacteria.
Ivanovsky discovered that the filtered solution could still infect tobacco plants. So, the cause must be much smaller than bacteria. He determined incredibly tiny parasitic agents caused the mosaic disease. These microscopic agents were so small they could not at the time be seen using a microscope. It wasn’t until the 1950s, well after his death, that we developed technology capable of seeing viruses.
Ivanovsky did not name viruses. The Dutch microbiologist, Dr. Martinus Beijerinck independently conducted similar research six years later. At the time Beijerink coined the term virus. Ivanovsky never completely understood how viruses worked. However, his research provided the foundation for virology, or the study of viruses.
Here’s the list of our coming blogs for World Health Worker Week.
- Famous figures at the beginning of global healthcare.
- Important accomplishments by Healthcare Workers in Specific Diseases.
- Famous historical figures in research.
- Other famous and familiar names in the history of global healthcare.
- Famous Humanitarians and Philanthropists that have been part of Healthcare.
What can you do to help celebrate World Health Worker Week?
The World Health Organization (WHO) known by more people today than it ever was before. Their job is to identify these situations. They have been helping and organizing the response to the Covid-19 pandemic from the start. Who better, to our mind, to look to for World Health Worker Week. The WHO has created a World Health Worker Week Portal and their focus for 2020 is Leaders on the Line. They hope to use the portal to help raise public awareness
Here are some ideas, from the World Health Worker Week Portal website “hosted by the Frontline Health Workers Coalition secretariat at IntraHealth International”. (WHO, 2020)
- Honor and thank health workers for their heroic efforts digitally with #WHWWeek.
- Share with your policymakers FHWC’s Recommendations to Policymakers on COVID-19. Tell policymakers not to restrict procurement of personal protective equipment and other supplies needed by frontline health workers in low- and middle-income countries and address other issues critical to health worker’s safety and support.
- In the US, call your member of the House of Representatives to support House Resolution 467 recognizing frontline health workers impact in saving lives and battling global health threats.
- Worldwide, donate and ask your governments to support the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund and the Working for Health Multipartner Trust Fund.
- Follow @FHWCoalition and #HealthWorkersCount beyond World Health Worker Week for more actions to support frontline health workers.
(This information is a direct quote from the Leaders on the Line World Health Worker Week Portal, 2020)