The 1900s Medicine and Health: Headline Makers
The 1900s Medicine and Health: Headline MakersJohn J. Abel
William Crawford Gorgas
John J. Abel (1857–1938) John J. Abel is known as the "father of American pharmacology." At Johns Hopkins University, he spent nearly four decades establishing the methods by which pharmacology was to be taught and researched in the United States. Pharmacology is the branch of medicine concerned with the actions of drugs within the human body. Pharmacologists develop and test new drugs to understand their therapeutic or toxic effects on humans. Among Abel's most significant contributions to medicine was his demonstration that proved the presence of amino acids in the blood and his research into the possibility of creating an artificial kidney.
William Crawford Gorgas (1854–1920) William Crawford Gorgas came from a prominent Alabama family and was encouraged to undertake a military career. When he failed to be admitted to West Point, Gorgas entered Bellevue Medical College. In 1880, he was appointed a surgeon in the Army Medical Corps. While stationed in Texas in 1883, he contracted yellow fever. Upon recovering from the deadly disease, his immunity led him to be stationed at other posts where yellow fever was commonplace. During the Spanish-American War, he served as head of sanitation in Havana, Cuba. While in Cuba, he destroyed many of the mosquito breeding grounds where yellow fever was concentrated. His success in Cuba led to international fame and, in 1904, Gorgas was named chief sanitary officer at the Panama Canal construction site. Within a year, yellow fever had been eliminated from the Canal Zone.
Walter Reed (1851–1902) Walter Reed's research into the causes and transmission of tropical fevers made him one of the most respected physicians of the early twentieth century. One of his more important studies centered on typhoid fever. Chairperson of the typhoid commission in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, Reed demonstrated that filthy camp conditions were ideal breeding grounds for the flies that spread the disease. His greatest triumph, however, occurred when he headed the Yellow Fever Commission in Cuba in 1900. Reed's research showed the disease was spread by only one type of mosquito under unique conditions. A campaign to wipe out that mosquito was soon begun. By 1902, the campaign had succeeded, and yellow fever was eradicated throughout Cuba.