Medicine · Science

Important figures in Biology

Important figures of Biology in Printable Version.
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Aristotle (384-347 B.C.) – The first genuine scientist. A Greek philosopher who stressed the importance of accurate and direct observation. He also initiated the basis for a scientific method of solving problems. His writings cover many subjects – physics, metaphysics, biology, zoology etc.

Aristotle is also famous for tutoring Alexander the Great of Macedonia.

Andreas Versalius (1514-1564) – Author of many influential books on human anatomy based on dissections. He was a Belgian physician and anatomist, and he is considered to be the founder of modern anatomy.

William Harvey (1578-1657)Was an English physician who is best known for being to first to describe the systemic circulation of blood around the body. His most important contribution is his description of the blood and how it is pumped by the heart.

Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694)Was an Italian physician and biologist. He is regarded as the father of microscopical anatomy and histology. He gave his name to several physiological features related to the excretory system, and is known to have discovered the existence of blood capillaries.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) – was a Dutch tradesman and scientist. He is commonly known as the ‘Father of Microbiology’ and considered to be the first microbiologist. He is also the first to have recorded observations of muscle fibres, spermatozoa, bacteria, and blood flow in capillaries.

Robert Hooke (1635-1703) – Was an English natural philosopher, architect and polymath who constructed a microscope in 1665 and was the first to describe box-like structures he observed in cork tissue. Due to his work in many scientific fields he is called the ‘English Leonardo (da Vinci)’

Carl Linneaus (1707-1778) – was a Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician, who laid th who laid the foundations for the modern biological naming scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology.

Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) – Was a French naturalist, and the first ‘biologist.’ He was a soldier, biologist, academic, and an early proponent of the idea that evolution occurred and proceeded in accordance with natural laws. He gave the term biology a broader meaning by coining the term for special sciences, chemistry, meteorology, geology, and botany-zoology.

Jan Evangelista Purkyně (1787-1869) – Was a Czech anatomist and physiologist, widely known at his time. He is the first to introduce the term ‘protoplasm’ = cytoplasm + molecules in the cell.  He also described the effects of camphor, opium, belladonna and turpentine on humans in 1829. He also experimented with nutmeg that same year, when after he “washed down three ground nutmegs with a glass of wine” experienced headaches, nausea, euphoria, and hallucinations that lasted several days, which remain a good description of today’s average nutmeg binge.

Matthias J. Schleiden (1804-1881)Was a German botanist and co-founder of the cell theory, along with Theodor Schwann and Rudolf Virchow. Not much is known about him, but a cool fact is that he was born as a citizen of the Holy Roman Empire.

Theodor Schwann (1810-1882) – Was a German physiologist. He was quite a feat since he contributed to the development of cell theory, the discovery of Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system, the discovery and study of pepsin, the discovery of the organic nature of yeast, and the invention of the term metabolism.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) – Was… well this guy’s name speaks for itself. A widely know English naturalist who proposed the theory of evolution of species by the development of varieties within common stocks. This process was entitled ‘The Struggle for Existence,’ which results in a ‘Natural Selection’ of species. This is ‘The survival of the fittest. His most valuable book is ‘The origin of species by means of natural selection,’ – 1859. Fun Fact. He was born the same day as Abraham Lincoln.

Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) – Was a Czech scientist (born in the Austrian Empire) and also an Augustinian Friar who gained posthumous fame for being the ‘founder of genetics.’ He was the first to give a scientific interpretations of hereditary mechanisms as a result of 8 years of experimental work with garden peas. This lead to the formulation of ‘Mendel’s laws’ and a foundation for genetics. Mendel coined the terms “recessive” and “dominant” in reference to certain traits.

Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) – Was a French microbiologist and chemist renowned for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization. He is remembered for his remarkable breakthroughs in the causes and preventions of diseases, and his discoveries have saved countless lives ever since. He reduced mortality from puerperal fever, and created the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax. Pasteur is regarded as the ‘father of bateriology.’

Robert Koch (1843-1910) – Was a German microbiologist and physician who devised a plate method for growing bacteria on solid media. The founder of modern bacteriology, he is known for his role in identifying the specific causative agents of tuberculosis, cholera, and anthrax and for giving experimental support for the concept of infectious disease.

Ivan P. Pavlov (1849-1936) – Was a Russian physiologist who is widely know for proposing the concept that acquired reflexes play a role in the nervous reaction pattern in animals. He had come to learn this concept of conditioned reflex when examining the rates of salivation among dogs. Pavlov had learned that when a buzzer or metronome was sounded in subsequent time with food being presented to the dog in consecutive sequences, the dog would initially salivate when the food was presented. The dog would later come to associate the sound with the presentation of the food and salivate upon the presentation of that stimulus.

Here’s a good one: Pavlov enters a bar, and orders a vodka shot. At 14:05 his watch starts ringing and all of a sudden this idea pops into his head: “I must feed the dog.”

Thomas Hunt Morgan (1866-1945) –  Was an American evolutionary biologist, geneticist,embryologist, and science author who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1933 for discoveries elucidating the role that the chromosome plays in heredity.  Following the rediscovery of Mendelian inheritance in 1900, Morgan’s research moved to the study of mutation in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. In his famous Fly Room at Columbia University, Morgan demonstrated that genes are carried on chromosomes and are the mechanical basis of heredity.

Alexis Carrel (1873-1944) Was a French surgeon and biologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1912 for pioneering vascular suturing techniques (in vitro cultures). He invented the first perfusion pump with Charles A. Lindbergh opening the way to organ transplantation. Like many intellectuals before World War II he promoted eugenics. He was accused to have been involved with the Nazis and was supposed to undergo a trial, but Carrel died before it could take place (71 yrs. old).

  • Click the link to Eugenics – It’s a good place to read about Ethics on Gene Technology.

Sir Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) –  was a Scottish biologist, pharmacologist and botanist. He wrote many articles on bacteriology, immunology, and chemotherapy. His best-known discoveries are the enzyme lysozyme in 1923 and the antibiotic substance penicillin from the mould Penicillium notatum in 1928, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945.

James Watson (1928) and Francis Crick (1916-2004). In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick suggested what is now accepted as the first correct double-helix model of DNA structure in the journal Nature. Their double-helix, molecular model of DNA was then based on a single X-ray diffraction image.

Marshall W. Nirenberg (1927-2010) and Har Gobind Khorana (1922) – Received both the Nobel Prize for cracking the genetic code. The Nirenberg and Leder experiment was a scientific experiment performed in 1964by Marshall W. Nirenberg and Philip Leder. The experiment elucidated the triplet nature of the genetic code and allowed the remaining ambiguous codons in the genetic code to be deciphered.

Khorana Left, Nirenberg Right

Linus C. Pauling (1901-1994) – was an American chemist, biochemist, peace activist, author, and educator. He was one of the most influential chemists in history and ranks among the most important scientists of the 20th century. Pauling was one of the founders of the fields of quantum chemistry and molecular biology. He is one of only four individuals to have won more than one Nobel Prize. His most important work regarding biology is the discovery of several of the basic structural features of protein molecules.

Barbara McClintock (1902-1992) – Was an American scientist and cytogeneticist who was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She is the one to have discovered genetic transposition.  Her work was ground-breaking; she developed the technique for visualizing maize chromosomes and used microscopic analysis to demonstrate many fundamental genetic ideas. One of those ideas was the notion of genetic recombination by crossing-over during meiosis—a mechanism by which chromosomes exchange information. She produced the first genetic map for maize, linking regions of the chromosome to physical traits. She demonstrated the role of the telomere and centromere, regions of the chromosome that are important in the conservation of genetic information.


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