Anglo-Saxon times: The earliest pharmacopoeia in English (Cotton Vitellius, MS C. iii).
1628: First correct description of circulation of the blood in De Motu Cordis by William Harvey (1578–1657).
18th century: Invention of surgical forceps attributed to Stephen Hales (1677–1761).
- 1711: First blood pressure measurement and first cardiac catheterisation by Stephen Hales (1677–1761).
1763: Aspirin’s active ingredient discovered by Edward Stone (1702–1768).
1770s: Isolation of fibrin, a key protein in the blood coagulation process; investigation of the structure of the lymphatic system; and description of red blood cells by surgeon William Hewson (1739–1774), so-called “father of haematology”.
1775: First demonstration that a cancer may be caused by an environmental carcinogen by Percivall Pott (1714–1788), also a founding father of orthopedy.
1794: Colour blindness first described in a paper titled “Extraordinary facts relating to the vision of colours” by John Dalton (1766–1844).
1798: Smallpox vaccine, the first successful vaccine to be developed, invented by Edward Jenner (1749–1823); in so doing, Jenner is said to have “saved more lives [. . .] than were lost in all the wars of mankind since the beginning of recorded history.”
1800: Anaesthetic properties of nitrous oxide (entonox/”laughing gas”) discovered by Humphry Davy (1778–1829).
1817: First description of (what would come to be called) Parkinson’s disease in “An Essay on the Shaking Palsy” by James Parkinson (1755–1824).
1818 or 1829: First successful blood transfusion performed by James Blundell (1791–1878).
1819: First accurate description of hay fever by John Bostock (1773–1846).
1847: Ophthalmoscope conceived by Charles Babbage (1791–1871).
1850s: Location of the source of cholera by pioneer of anaesthesia and “father of epidemiology” John Snow (1813–1858).
1850s: General anaesthetic pioneered by Englishman John Snow (1813–1858) and Scotsman James Young Simpson.
1850s onwards: Treatment of epilepsy pioneered by Edward Henry Sieveking (1816–1904).
1858: First publication of Gray’s Anatomy, widely regarded as the first complete human-anatomy textbook, by Henry Gray (1827–1861).
1860 onwards: Modern nursing pioneered by Florence Nightingale (1820–1910).
1867: Antisepsis in surgery invented by Joseph Lister (1827–1912).
1867: Clinical thermometer devised by Thomas Clifford Allbutt (1836–1925).
1898: The mosquito identified as the carrier of malaria by Sir Ronald Ross (1857–1932).
1901: Amino acid Tryptophan discovered by Frederick Gowland Hopkins (1861–1947).
1902: First typhoid vaccine developed by Almroth Wright (1861–1947).
1912: Vitamins discovered by Frederick Gowland Hopkins (1861–1947).
1915: Acetylcholine (ACh) identified by Sir Henry Hallett Dale (1875–1968) for its action on heart tissue.
1937 onwards: Protein crystallography developed by Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1910–1994); Hodgkin solved the structures of cholesterol (1937), penicillin (1946), and vitamin B12 (1956), for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964; in 1969, she succeeded in solving the structure of insulin, on which she worked for over thirty years.
1937: Discovery of the Citric acid cycle (“Krebs Cycle”) by German-born (naturalised) British physician and biochemist Hans Adolf Krebs (1900–1981) at the University of Sheffield.
1941: Crucial first steps in the mass production of penicillin made by Norman Heatley (1911–2004).
1949: Diagnostic ultrasound first used to assess the thickness of bowel tissue by English-born physicist John J. Wild (1914–2009), so-called “father of medical ultrasound”.
1949–1950: Artificial intraocular lens transplant surgery for cataract patients developed by Harold Ridley (1906–2001).
Late 1950s: Peak Flow Meter invented by Martin Wright (1912–2001), also the creator of the Syringe Driver.
1960 onwards: The hip replacement operation (in which a stainless steel stem and 22mm head fit into a polymer socket and both parts are fixed into position by PMMA cement) pioneered by John Charnley (1911–1982).
1960s: First use of sodium cromoglycate for asthma prophylaxis associated with Roger Altounyan (1922–1987).
1967 onwards: Computed Tomography and first commercial CT scanner invented by Sir Godfrey Hounsfield (1919–2004) in Hayes, Middlesex, at EMI Central Research Laboratories.
1969–1978: Development of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) by Patrick Christopher Steptoe (1913–1988) and Robert Geoffrey Edwards (1925–2013).
Late 1970s: Echo-planar imaging (EPI) technique, a contribution to the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), developed by Sir Peter Mansfield (born 1933).
1980: Potential of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in treating a wide range of genetic diseases, among other breakthroughs, discovered by John Raymond Hobbs (1929–2008).
1981: Discovery of how to culture embryonic stem cells credited to England-born biologist Martin Evans (born 1941).
1993: Viagra (a.k.a. Sildenafil – compound UK-92,480) synthesised by a group of pharmaceutical chemists working at Pfizer’s Sandwich, Kent research facility in England. The press identified Peter Dunn and Albert Wood as the inventors of the drug; only Andrew Bell, David Brown and Nicholas Terrett are listed on the original composition of matter patent.
2009: First baby genetically selected to be free of a breast cancer born at University College Hospital.