Test your expertise: Major milestones in medical history

Maria Trimarchi

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About This Quiz

From anesthesia to vivisection, from mapping the human genome to discovering stem cells, what game-changing moments in medicine do you know through history?

Which Founding Father invented bifocal glasses?

Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals, in 1784. He also invented the Franklin stove -- of course -- and a musical instrument called an armonica.

Where was the first medical school in the U.S.?

The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine was the first med school in the U.S., founded all the way back in 1765. Graduates could pursue either a bachelor's degree (M.B.) or a medical doctor's degree (M.D.).

Where was the first medical school opened?

Schola Medica Salernitana, believed to be the world's first medical school, was founded in a monastery in the 9th century. A popular institution in Salerno southern Italy, it was at its peak in the 12th century. (Bonus: It educated both male and female students.)

Whose work, set forth in the "Fabrica," gave us a new understanding of human anatomy?

Before him, humans only had a pretty primitive grasp on our bodies. He worked with many animal and human cadavers.

In which city did the first licensed pharmacist in the U.S., Louis Joseph Dufilho, Jr., run an apothecary?

Louis Joseph Dufilho, Jr., the first licensed pharmacist in the U.S., ran an apothecary in New Orleans in the mid-1800s. His apothecary shop is now a museum.

In 1939, Gerhard Domagk was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of which type of drug?

Gerhard Domagk was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the antibacterial effects of the first sulfa drug, prontosil. The German Gestapo forced him to decline the award in 1939, but he received it later.

Who was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of bacteria-killing penicillin, in 1945?

Alexander Fleming was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945, along with Ernst Boris Chain and Howard Walter Florey, for the discovery of penicillin.

Who was the first patient to be healed with penicillin?

Although in 1940 Albert Alexander was treated for streptococci and staphylococci infection and did improve, there was not enough of the drug to save him. The first patient to be successfully treated was Anne Miller, in 1942, who was suffering from a condition called septicemia (blood poisoning) after suffering a miscarriage.

Who was the first African American to graduate from a U.S. medical school?

James McCune Smith was the first African American to graduate from medical school, in 1837, but Smith graduated from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. David Jones Peck was the first African American to graduate from a U.S. medical school, Rush Medical College, in 1847.

In 1982, what organ did Dr. William DeVries implant into Barney Clark, a Seattle dentist?

Barney Clark received the first artificial heart, the Jarvik-7, developed by Dr. Robert Jarvik and implanted by Dr. William DeVries in December 1982. He lived an additional 112 days.

For what disease was the world's first vaccine?

The world's first vaccine was for smallpox, created by physician Edward Jenner at the end of the 18th century.

In 1980, the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) declared which infectious disease eradicated?

Following a worldwide immunization campaign, W.H.O. declared smallpox eradicated in 1980.

Who was the first female doctor schooled in the U.S., getting a medical degree from Geneva Medical College in 1849?

Elizabeth Blackwell was the first female physician to graduate from a medical school in the U.S. She eventually started a private practice in England.

Which Canadian physician discovered the hormone insulin?

While Paul Langerhans discovered the cells that produce insulin, he didn't know their purpose. It was Frederick Banting and then-medical student Charles H. Best who discovered the hormone insulin.

How many people were needed to operate the first electrocardiogram?

Five people were needed to operate the 600-pound, water-cooled device. An ECG measures electric impulses of the heart.

What procedure was Reuben Ottenberg first to perform, using blood typing and cross-matching techniques?

Reuben Ottenberg was first to perform a human blood transfusion, taking blood typing and cross-matching into account. He discovered the universal blood type -- Type O negative -- as well.

Who was the world's first "test tube" baby?

When Louise Joy Brown was born to Lesley and Peter Brown in 1978, in-vitro fertilization was far from mainstream. Elizabeth Jordan Carr, by the way, was the first IVF baby born in the U.S., born in 1981.

Which international project, which was successfully completed in April 2003, required sequencing approximately 3 billion base pairs?

Mapping the human genome, which took place between 1990 and 2003, meant sequencing roughly 3 billion base pairs in our 23 pairs of chromosomes.

What does lovastatin, the first in its class, lower in your body?

Marketed as Mevacor, lovastatin was the first cholesterol-lowering statin, introduced in 1987. Statins have gone on to become the best-selling meds in the U.S.

What did "The New York Times" say about German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen's discovery of the X-ray?

When Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen unveiled his work, "The New York Times" wrote about his "alleged discovery of how to photograph the invisible." This quote was published in 1896.

What did French physician René Laënnec invent after he couldn't properly examine a particularly zaftig woman by just listening to her chest with his ear?

After he was unable to adequately hear the heart of the woman by just pressing his ear against her chest, French physician René Laënnec invented the stethoscope, in 1816.

Which was the first state where terminally-ill adults could legally end their lives with a physician's assistance?

Oregon was the first state to have physician-assisted end-of-life laws, in 1997. A patient must be mentally competent and have a terminal illness that will most likely cause death within six months.

The inventor of the first insulin pump went on to invent what form of transportation?

Dean Kamen, inventor of the first insulin pump, also invented the Segway personal transporter.

Which pair was responsible for the discovery of the double-helix structure of our DNA?

The structure of our DNA was discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick, along with Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, in the 1950s.

Whose idea was it to improve people's homes by piping sewage out and water in?

It was social reformer Edwin Chadwick who fought to improve sanitation practices and the construction of a sewage system.

What was once considered a blood substitute, used during the late 19th century before saline?

Milk from cows, goats and humans was transfused as a blood substitute before being replaced with saline infusion.

Which cells are able to develop into other cell types?

Stem cells are unique because of their potential ability to develop into many other types of cells in the body.

What organization was founded after Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act in 1984?

UNOS, which stands for United Network for Organ Sharing, was founded after the National Organ Transplant Act was passed in 1984.

Who underwrote the research that was needed before the first oral contraceptive for women could be introduced?

Margaret Sanger, the same Sanger who opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S., underwrote the research needed to create the first birth control pill by raising $150,000.

Chemists Carl Djerassi, George Rosenkranz, and (then-student) Luis Miramontes share the patent for what synthetic hormone?

Carl Djerassi, George Rosenkranz, and Luis Miramontes share the patent for creating norethindrone, the synthetic hormone that made the first birth control pill possible.

What name did the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) announce the virus that causes AIDS would be officially known as?

In 1982, the CDC started using the acronym AIDS for aquired immune deficiency syndrome. In May 1986, the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses announced that the virus known to cause AIDS is officially known as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

When was HIV first discovered as the virus that causes AIDS?

In 1984, two years after the CDC recognized acquired immune deficiency syndrome as AIDS, researchers Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute and Robert Gallo of the U.S. National Cancer Institute isolated the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Before it was discovered that microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses cause disease, what did physicians believe caused these conditions?

Before germ theory was discovered and became mainstream, many scientists and doctors believed in the miasma theory, which suggested bad, toxic or "night" air was to blame. Contagionism and supernatural causes were also believed throughout our history.

William T.G. Morton was the first to use ether anesthesia successfully (and publicly) in surgery. But who suggested the words "anesthetic" and "anesthesia" for the procedure?

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. suggested the two words, "anesthetic" and "anesthesia."

Which technology allows scientists the ability to do genetic editing?

CRISPR, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, is the system that allows scientists to add or remove bits of DNA.

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