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History

19th-century knowledge about the body and disease

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Causes of improvements in physiology and pathology

  1. The Industrial Revolution / inventions
    • There was a general atmosphere of scientific research and advance.
    • Louis Pasteur's first commission was to find a cure for sour wine, which set him off on his revolutionary course.
    • Joseph Jackson Lister (Britain: 1826) invented the multi-lens microscope, which allowed doctors to see very tiny things accurately.
    • Carl Ludwig (Germany: 1847) invented the kymograph, which allowed more accurate measurement of the pulse.
    • Wilhelm Roentgen (Germany: 1895) discovered x-rays.
    • Willem Einthoven (Holland: 1900) invented the electrocardiograph (measured heart activity).
  2. Scientific knowledge
    • Jan Purkinje (Czechoslovakia: 1836) set up the first university department of physiology (science of how the body works).
    • Louis Pasteur started as a research chemist. He set up a team of researchers at the Pasteur Institute (1888).
    • Robert Koch developed his Postulates of how researchers should find a disease. These led to four basic procedures - make sure the germ in question is present in the sick specimen - grow a culture of that germ - inject it into a healthy specimen - see if the disease develops.
  3. Social factors
    • Nationalism - eg the rivalry of Pasteur and Koch. Shibasaburo Kitasato (Japan) and Alexandre Yersin (France) raced to discover the plague bacterium in 1894.
    • The deaths of his two daughters motivated Louis Pasteur to redouble his efforts in the fight against disease.

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