Hello and welcome to the second of four weekly scientists. Last week I spoke about the wonders of vaccination and Louis Pasteur’s discoveries. I thought for this week I would go along the same theme and introduce you to the father of immunology!
Born: May 17, 1749
Died: Jan 26, 1823 (at age 73) in Berkeley, Gloucestershire
Noted for: The creation of vaccination and being the father of immunology and the creation of the smallpox vaccine.
Why scientist of the week?
As I said last week vaccinations have saved countless lives and are an essential part of modern day medicine. Edward Jenner worked in small rural community where most patients were farmers who owned cattle. During this time, smallpox was a common illness and among the major causes of death. In 1788, a smallpox epidemic hit Gloucestershire. During the outbreak, Edward Jenner observed that some patients who were working with the cattle and had also had contacted cowpox never got affected by the smallpox virus. In May of 1796, Jenner was given an opportunity when one young milkmaid came to see with some blister-like sores on both hands. Jenner was able to identify that the young lady had caught cowpox due to the fact that she handled cows every day. He extracted some liquid from sores of the patient with cowpox. He later used this liquid on a young healthy man. To Jenner’s relief, the young man never caught smallpox, unlike other people. This then led to the smallpox vaccine. In 1798, after several other successful tests, Jenner finally published his findings in a publication called An Inquiry into Causes plus the Effects of Variolae Vaccine. He called his idea “vaccination,” from vaccinia, which is a Latin word for cowpox. After so much ridicule, other doctors finally found out that the vaccination really worked and by 1800, a large number of them were using it.
So all in all thanks to Jenner’s discoveries and the immunology work done today many diseases are being wiped out around the world.