Great Medical Discoveries

An Oxford Story

Conrad Keating

Great Medical Discoveries

Conrad Keating

Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

96 pages | 40 color plates | 6 x 9 | © 2013
Paper $17.50 ISBN: 9781851240036 Published April 2014 For sale in North America only
The “miracle drug” penicillin was first administered in Oxford in February 1941, leading to a full-blown transformation in the way bacterial infection was diagnosed and treated. What was to become one of the greatest stories of the “golden age of medical discovery” not only had its roots in Oxford, but was the latest in a line of pivotal medical discoveries made in the city.
Great Medical Discoveries offers a short illustrated history of the city’s contribution to the medical sciences, from the medieval period to the present day, when it is home to some of the world’s leading large scientific institutions. In charting this remarkable history, the book showcases twenty discoveries across the centuries. In the mid-twentieth century, for instance, Oxford led the field of experimental medicine, and William Harvey, Thomas Willis, and Thomas Sydenham all gained eponymous status with their pioneering research into the workings of the human body. In the mid-seventeenth century, Dorothy Hodgkin’s development of x-ray crystallography earned her a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Meanwhile, the work of epidemiologist Richard Doll saved millions of lives by making clear the long-term dangers of smoking and the benefits of quitting.
Great Medical Discoveries traces these and other examples of groundbreaking research—from the scientific application of anesthetics to new treatments for hemophilia and life-saving advances in neurosurgery—and shows how they form part of a wider tapestry of work that has helped shape the medical sciences and improve human health.


Roger Bacon (1214–1292) The Origin of the Scientific Method

Thomas Sydenham (1624–1689) The ‘English Hippocrates’

Robert Hooke (1635–1703) Microscopy and the discovery of the cell

William Harvey (1578–1657) The circulation of the blood

Richard Lower (1631–1691) Blood, transfusions and respiration

Thomas Willis (1621–1675) The beginnings of neurology

The Nuffield Benefaction: Laying the foundations of the Oxford Medical School

Penicillin A gift to the world

Dorothy Hodgkin Britain’s only female Nobel Prize winner in science

James Gowans ‘The Mysterious Lymphocyte’

John Gourding The cloning era

Richard Doll Epidemiological Science

The Oxford Knee A revolution in joint replacement

Tropical Medicine Transnational partnerships in the developing world

Haemophilia Inherited blood diseases

The Glucose Biosensor Diabetes in the modern world

ISIS-2 The mega-trial breakthrough

Joshua Silver Self-refraction eyeglasses

The Cochrane Collaboration (1993–) Meta-analysis of medical research

Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) The future of drug discovery


Review Quotes
The Lancet
“Concise. . . . Well-illustrated. . . . A highly readable introduction to the history of medicine as seen through Oxonian eyes.”
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