Medical inventions and discoveries

Invention Inventor Date
Adhesive plaster-covered bandages Paul Beiersdorf 1882
Anesthetic William Morton 1846
Anthrax vaccine Louis Pasteur 1881
Antiseptic Joseph Lister 1865
Artificial heart Denton Cooley 1969
Artificial hip John Charnley 1972 (perfected)
Artificial skin Dr. John F. Burke and Ioannis Yannas 1979
Bacteria (discovered) Anton van Leeuwenhoek 1674
Birth control pill Gregory Pincus, John Rock and Min-Chueh Chang 1960 (approved by FDA)
Blood circulation (discovered) William Harvey 1628 (published)
Blood transfusion (modern) Dr. Thomas Blundell 1818
Cholera vaccine Louis Pasteur 1880
Contact lenses (glass) Adolf Fick 1887
Corneal transplants Eduard Zirm 1905
Cough drops James Smith and sons 1847
Dental drill (motor-driven) George Fellows Harrington 1864
Disposable syringe Colin Murdoch 1956
DNA (structure discovered) Frances Crick, James Watson and Rosalind Franklin 1953
Electrocardiograph Willem Einthoven 1903
Gas mask Garrett Augustus Morgan 1912
Genetics Johann Gregor Mendel 1865
Heart transplant Christiaan Barnard 1967
Hypodermic syringe Charles Gabriel Pravaz and Alexander Wood 1853
Insulin (discovery) Frederick Banting and Charles Best 1921
Iron lung Philip Drinker 1929
Microscope (compound) Hans Janssen 1590
Morphine Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Serturner 1803
Ophthalmoscope Charles Babbage
HermannLudwig von Helmholtz
1847
1851
Pacemaker (human) Wilson Greatbatch 1960 (first use)
Pasteurisation Louis Pasteur 1864
Pathology Giovanni Battista Morgagni 1761
Penicillin Alexander Fleming 1928
Plastic surgery Archibald Hector McIndoe 1940s
Polio vaccine Jonas Salk 1953
Quinine Pierre Joseph Pelletier and Joseph Bienaime Caventou 1820
Rabies vaccine Louis Pasteur 1885
Rubella vaccine Paul D. Parkman and Harry M. Meyer Jr. 1966
Scurvy vaccine James Lind 1753 (published)
Smallpox vaccine Edward Jenner 1796
Stethoscope René Laënnec 1819
Thermometer (medical) Thomas Allbutt 1866
X-rays Wilhelm Roentgen 1895

Go to our Inventions for kids page to see our full list of inventions and resources.

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