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Prominent Scientists: (ii) Life Sciences & Medical Sciences

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  • Hugo Theorell, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1955 (1903 - 1982)
    Axel Hugo Theodor Theorell ForMemRS (6 July 1903 – 15 August 1982) was a Swedish scientist and Nobel Prize laureate in medicine. He was born in Linköping as the son of Thure Theorell and his wife Arm...
  • Gary Bruce Ruvkun
    Gary Bruce Ruvkun (born 26 March 1952, Berkeley, California) is an American molecular biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Ruvkun d...
  • Dr. Edward Donnall (Don) Thomas, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1990 (1920 - 2012)
    Edward Donnall "Don" Thomas (March 15, 1920 – October 20, 2012)[1] was an American physician, professor emeritus at the University of Washington, and director emeritus of the clinical research division...
  • David Zilberman
    David Zilberman (born May 9, 1947) is an Israeli-American economist, professor and Robinson Chair in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Zil...
  • Joshua Lederberg, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1925 - 2008)
    Wikipedia Joshua Lederberg, ForMemRS (May 23, 1925 – February 2, 2008) was an American molecular biologist known for his work in microbial genetics, artificial intelligence, and the United States spa...

Prominent scientists who have made major contributions to our understanding of life on earth.

The fields of biology and medicine have seen many important discoveries throughout the centuries. From vaccines to theories of the beginning and progression of life on Earth, the many discoveries have improved not only our understanding of history but also our quality of living.

  • Leonardo da Vinci’s Famous “Vitruvian Man” Drawing

Selected Profiles (listed by activity period):


  • Imhotep (2650 – 2600 BCE) Considered to be the first architect, and engineer, and physician in early history.
  • Suśruta सुश्रुत (sʊʃɾʊt̪) ( lived ca. 600 BCE). He is an ancient Indian surgeon and is the author of the book Suśruta Saṃhitā, in which he describes over 300 surgical procedures, 120 surgical instruments and classifies human surgery in eight categories.
  • Hippocrates (c.460–370 BCE). The Father of Western Medicine.
  • Aristotle (384–322 BCE). Classified organisms into a “Ladder of Life”.

0 – 1000

  • Pedanius Dioscorides Πεδάνιος Διοσκουρίδης (c.40 — c.90) was a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist, the author of De Materia Medica — a 5-volume encyclopedia about herbal medicine and related medicinal substances (a pharmacopeia), that was widely read for more than 1,500 years.
  • Galen of Pergamon (129–161). Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher in the Roman Empire. Arguably the most accomplished of all medical researchers of antiquity, Galen influenced the development of various scientific disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and neurology, as well as philosophy and logic.
  • Isaac Israeli ben Solomon (c. 832 – c. 932) יצחק בן שלמה הישראלי or Isaac Judaeus, was one of the foremost Jewish physicians and philosophers living in the Arab world of his time. He is regarded as the father of medieval Jewish Neoplatonism. His works, all written in Arabic and subsequently translated into Hebrew, Latin and Spanish, entered the medical curriculum of the early thirteenth-century universities in Medieval Europe and remained popular throughout the Middle Ages.
  • Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari (Persian: علی ابن سهل ربن طبری‎) (c. 838 – c. 870) Persian Muslim scholar, physician and psychologist, who produced one of the first encyclopedias of medicine entitled Firdous al-Hikmah ("Paradise of wisdom").
  • Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī (Persian: ابوبكر محمّد زکرياى رازى‎) his Latinized name Rhazes or Rasis (854–925), Persian polymath, physician, alchemist, philosopher, and important figure in the history of medicine. He was among the first to use humoral theory to distinguish one contagious disease from another, and wrote a pioneering book about smallpox and measles providing clinical characterization of the diseases.
  • Shabbethai Donnolo (913 – c. 982) שבתי דונולו. was a Graeco-Italian Jewish physician, and writer on medicine and astrology. His medical work, Sefer ha-Yaḳar (Precious Book), contains an "antidotarium," or book of practical directions for preparing medicinal roots. Donnolo's medical science is based upon Greco-Latin sources; only one Arabic plant-name occurs. He cites Asaph the Jew. A hospital in Tel Aviv-Yaffo was named after him.

1000 – 1500

  • Avicenna - Ibn Sina (Persian: ابن سینا‎)  (980 – 1037) Persian polymath who is regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age, and the father of modern medicine. Avicenna is also called "the most influential philosopher of the pre-modern era"
  • Matthaeus Platearius (c.1161d) was a physician from the medical school at Salerno, and is thought to have produced a twelfth-century Latin manuscript on medicinal herbs titled "Circa Instans" (also known as "The Book of Simple Medicines"),
  • Da'ud Abu al-Fadl (1161 – 1242) Karaite Jewish physician in Egypt, court physician of the sultan al-Malik al-'Adil Abu Bakr ibn Ayyub, chief professor at the al-Nasiri Hospital at Cairo, considered the most skillfull physician of the time and that his success in curing the sick was miraculous. Abu al-Fadl was the author of an Arabic pharmacopoeia in twelve chapters, entitled Aḳrabadhin, treating chiefly of antidotes.
  • Ibn al-Nafis (1213 – 1288) Ala-al-Ddin abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Abi-Hazm al-Qarshi al-Dimashqi (Arabic: علاء الدين أبو الحسن عليّ بن أبي حزم القرشي الدمشقي), Arab physician from Damascus mostly famous for being the first to describe the pulmonary circulation of the blood. The work of Ibn al-Nafis regarding the right sided (pulmonary) circulation pre-dates the later work (1628) of William Harvey's De motu cordis.
  • Arnaldus de Villa Nova (1240 – 1311) Aragon born French physician, astrologer and a religious reformer. Credited with translating a number of medical texts from Arabic, including works by Ibn Sina Avicenna, Abu-l-Salt, and Galen

XVI century

  • Paracelsus (Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim), (1493 – 1541) German-Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist.
  • John Clement (1500 – 1572) Fellow, Consiliarius and President of the College of Physicians.
  • Andreas Vesalius (1514 – 1564) Flemish anatomist and physician, considered the founder of modern human anatomy.
  • Amatus Lusitanus (1511 - 1568) Portuguese Jewish Physician who is said to have discovered the function of the valves in the circulation of the blood. Noted surgeon, prolific author and scholar of logic, mathematics, philosophy.

XVII century

  • William Harvey (1578 – 1657) English physician who was the first person to describe completely and in detail the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the body by the heart.
  • Anton van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) Nationality: Dutch. Known for: The Father of Microbiology. As the first person recorded to describe single-cell organisms, Leeuwenhoek is often referred to as the world’s first microbiologist
  • Robert Hooke (1635-1703). English natural philosopher, architect and polymath. Coined the term “cell”. Hooke studied microscopic fossils and as a result of his finding, he was an early supporter in the theory of biological evolution.

XVIII century

  • Joseph Priestley (1733-1804). English theologian, Dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, educator, and political theorist. He is usually credited with the discovery of oxygen. He was also the first to observe photosynthesis.
  • Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794). French nobleman prominent in the histories of chemistry and biology. He named both oxygen (1778) and hydrogen (1783) and helped construct the metric system, put together the first extensive list of elements, and helped to reform chemical nomenclature.
  • Edward Jenner (1749-1823). English physician and scientist who was the pioneer of smallpox vaccine. He is often called "the father of immunology", and his work is said to have "saved more lives than the work of any other man".
  • Alexander Von Humboldt (1769-1859). Prussian polymath, geographer, naturalist, explorer, and influential proponent of Romantic philosophy and science. Helped establish the field of biogeogrpahy, which is the study of ecosystems and species throughout geological time and space.

XIX century

  • Charles Robert Darwin (1809–1882), FRS FRGS FLS FZS was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist. Father of the Theory of Evolution
  • Claude Bernard (1813-1878). Nationality: French. Known for: Blind experimental method for objective results. By suggesting using blind experiments to conduct studies, Bernard helped researchers get more objective results to their experiments. He also did studies on the pancreas gland, the liver, and parts of the body’s nervous system.
  • Gregor Mendel (1822-1884). German scientist, Augustinian friar and abbot. Known for plant hybridizations and genetics. Mendel worked with plants, peas, and honeybees to test his theories regarding genetics. He is credited with being the founder of the science of genetics and discovering a set of laws about genetic patterns, now called the Mendelian inheritance.
  • Louis Pasteur (1822-1895). French chemist and microbiologist. Created the process of pasteurization for treating milk and wine. Performed experiments that supported the germ theory of disease, which stated that diseases are caused by microorganisms. He also co-founded the field of microbiology and created vaccines for anthrax and rabies.
  • Joseph Lister (1827-1912). British physician. He came to be known as the “father of modern antisepsis”. He also developed better methods for mastectomies and repairing kneecaps.

XX/XXI centuries



The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded yearly by the Nobel Foundation for outstanding discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine.

One of five prizes bequested in 1895 by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, it is an award for scientific progress through laboratory discoveries in experimental physiology.

The Nobel Prize is presented annually on the anniversary of Nobel's death, 10 December. As of 2019, 110 Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine have been awarded to 207 men and 12 women. The first one was awarded in 1901 to the German physiologist Emil von Behring, for his work on serum therapy and the development of a vaccine against diphtheria. The first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Gerty Cori, received it in 1947 for her role in elucidating the metabolism of glucose, important in many aspects of medicine, including treatment of diabetes.

The prize consists of a medal along with a diploma and a certificate for the monetary award. The front side of the medal displays the same profile of Alfred Nobel depicted on the medals for Physics, Chemistry, and Literature; the reverse side is unique to this medal.

The 109 Nobel Prizes for Physiology or Medicine have been awarded to 216 individuals (to 2018), of which 12 women have won the prize. It was not awarded on nine occasions: in 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1921, 1925, 1940, 1941 and 1942.

Youngest Medicine Laureate: To date, the youngest Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine is Frederick Grant Banting, who was 32 years old when he was awarded the Medicine Prize in 1923.

Oldest Medicine Laureate: The oldest Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine to date is Peyton Rous, who was 87 years old when he was awarded the Medicine Prize in 1966.

Oldest living Nobel Laureate: The Nobel Laureate who lived to the oldest age was Rita Levi-Montalcini, who was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She was the first Nobel laureate ever to reach a 100th birthday. She celebrated her 103th anniversary on 22 April 2012 and passed away on December 30, 2012.

for all NOBEL laureates in Physiology or Medicine (by year), see:


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LASKER AWARDS in medical sciences

Lasker Awards have been awarded annually since 1945 to living persons who have made major contributions to medical science or who have performed public service on behalf of medicine. They are administered by the Lasker Foundation. The awards are sometimes referred to as America's Nobels.

Lasker Award has gained a reputation for identifying future winners of the Nobel Prize. By 2019, 85 Lasker laureates have received the Nobel Prize, including 32 in the last two decades.

The award is given in four branches of medical sciences, and carry an honorarium of $250,000 for each category:

  • Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award
  • Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award
  • Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award
  • Lasker-Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science (1994–)(optional)

for the Lasker Award laureates in Basic Medical Research and Clinical Medical Research (by year), see:

LASKER Awards - a Geni project

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WOLF PRIZE in medicine

The Wolf Prize in Medicine is awarded once a year by the Wolf Foundation in Israel. It is one of the six Wolf Prizes established by the Foundation and awarded since 1978; the others are in Agriculture, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics and Arts.

The Prize has been stated to be one of the most prestigious award in science, and a significant predictor of the Nobel Prize. In medicine, the prize is probably the third most prestigious, after the Nobel Prize and the Lasker Award.

for all Wolf Prize laureates (by year), see:

WOLF Prizes - a Geni project

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The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, a $3 million award, the largest award in the sciences, honours transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life.

The prize was founded in 2013. It is sponsored by Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Pony Ma, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Anne Wojcicki. The ceremony takes place in the San Francisco Bay Area, with the symposiums alternating between University of California, Berkeley, University of California, San Francisco, and Stanford University.

for Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences laureates (by year), see:

Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences - a Geni project

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The Wolf Prize in Agriculture is awarded once a year by the Wolf Foundation in Israel. It is one of the six Wolf Prizes established by the Foundation and awarded since 1978; the others are in Chemistry, Mathematics, Medicine, Physics and the Arts. The Prize is sometimes considered the equivalent of a "Nobel Prize in Agriculture".

for the laureates of the Wolf Prize in Agriculture (by year), see:

The WOLF PRIZES - a Geni project

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