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Y11 student produces fantastic History work

Donna Johnson / Categories: General

Y11 student produces fantastic History work

Some more great work from Anna in Year 11 - This deserves a big mention as she's gone above and beyond the original brief of just creating a timeline!

History edexcel GCSE medicine timeline

Medieval c.1250-1500

Factors= religion, individual genius

Medieval people were extremely religious and believed that god caused disease in order to punish people who had sinned; there was little explanation about the cause of disease other than it could be caused by having unbalanced humours (blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile) this idea had been created by Hippocrates and later on Galen further developed the idea by coming up with the theory of opposites, which opposed the idea that if you were to hot you were to eat or drink something cold to cool down. Both of these theories were natural, these theories were extremely significant to the people due to the fact that both theories covered almost every illness. The church also supported Galen’s ideas for many years because his ideas linked to the soul.

Astrology linked to illness and disease during the medieval period because people believed that the alignment of the planets and stars was extremely important; therefore if they were aligned incorrectly it would cause a disease for example, during the Black Death in 1348 people believed that it had been caused by a bad alignment of the planets and stars.

Medieval people used zodiac charts which represented the different parts of the body and depending on the positioning of the moon, whether a medical procedure could be carried out on that part of the body. Medical procedures would have been operated by barber surgeons.

The people also believed strongly about the miasma theory (bad air).

During the medieval period dating from c.1250-1500 there was very little scientific understanding which meant that there was more continuity during this time because most ideas about cause of disease had been dominated by religious ideas.


Renaissance c.1500-1700

Factors= individual genius, technology, religion, communication, science

People during the Renaissance were still quite religious but the Catholic Church began to be challenged by other religious teachings such as, Protestantism. But by the Renaissance religion didn’t dominate the lives of people as much because scientific understanding began to take over. There was also a development of art and the development of new beliefs meant peoples’ understanding of disease was changing. However, people still continued to believe in the miasma theory and the people also continued to believe in the theory of the four humours.

During the Renaissance alchemy was being developed which was an early form of chemistry.

Humanism (love of learning) was starting to appear more during this time.

At this time we see the appearance of Thomas Sydenham, who was an English doctor who refused to rely on old medical books to diagnose patients so he would observe the patient first and then record the symptoms and then look for a remedy, this was a more effective diagnosis because it meant that all symptoms were treated together rather than them being treated separately which they had been previously.

There were also significant changes in learning and the literacy rates which meant that a larger proportion of people were able to read and write.

In 1440 Gutenberg created the printing press, this new invention improved the communication because it meant that it could mass produce books and spread new ideas quicker.

By 1500, hospitals were treating more sick people and were being used less as a place of rest.  Hospitals had their own apothecary to mix medicines they also had physicians to visit the patients.

In 1533, Vesalius studied medicine and became a professor of surgery, he carried out a large number of dissections on human bodies and in 1543, he published a book called ‘on the fabric of the human body’. He improved the understanding of the human body, he also made the study of anatomy fashionable; he proved that some of Galen’s work was incorrect, which encouraged others to question his theories. His work was widely published and encouraged others to make further discoveries about the human body.

In 1536, the dissolution of the monasteries in England caused most hospitals to be closed.

From 1578-1657, William Harvey made discoveries about the heart. He carried out public dissections and taught the importance of doctors observing and recording patients’ symptoms, rather than relying on textbooks for diagnosis and treatments. He discovered the process of blood circulation. By discovering the circulation of blood he the Vesalius was right for dissecting bodies and Harvey also proved that the heart works like a pump and only flowed in one way, then he proved that blood could not be produced by the liver and absorbed into the body, as Galen had thought. He was influenced by new technology, such as mechanical water pumps. He also discovered that arteries and veins were part of one system. He was important in developing medical/scientific understanding because he improved knowledge about how the body worked and his scientific methods of observation and use of dissection had brought results and were then able to be copied by people but his discoveries left many unanswered questions, which encouraged further experiments.

In 1660 the Royal society was set up by King Charles II, which was a place where doctors and physicians could go and share their ideas and findings. They were able to encourage new ideas because they could publish new ideas in English

During the Renaissance there were a few ideas and beliefs which held back progress because people still believed in ideas like transference.

In 1665, when the plague hit the government played a bigger part in trying to prevent the spread of it as they order the killing of cats and dogs, burning tar in the streets and cleaning the streets. However, the people still believed that it may have been caused by astrology and miasma but the people did understand that the disease could be spread from person to person but far fewer people believed that it was caused by an imbalance of the four humours.

During the 1700s there were some free and charity-funded hospitals being set up. More pest houses began to appear. But when hospitals did re-open they were run by physicians not nuns or monks.

During the Renaissance there was more continuity but there was some change but there was little change in helping people’s everyday lives.


18th century and 19th century c.1700-1900

Factors= science, war, individual genius, government, communication, technology

During the 18th and 19th century bleeding and purging were still common treatments.

But by this time there was enlightenment which meant that people could think for themselves.

By 1700, microscopes had been developed so that unclear images of what would become known as bacteria or germs could be seen.

By 1850, microscopes had been further developed so that extremely tiny images could be seen clearly. This was essential in enabling the scientific breakthroughs in the 19th century.

In 1861, Louis Pasteur published the Germ theory, which proved that spontaneous generation was incorrect. He proved that microbes in the air are what cause decay  (he discovered this when he was investigating why liquids turned sour). He theorised that germs also caused disease but he was unable to prove his theory.

Robert Koch read Pasteur’s work and began to study microbes himself. He proved that Pasteur’s theory was correct and that microbes did cause disease as well as decay. He identified the specific microbes that caused TB in 1882, and cholera in 1883. Koch also developed a new way to grow bacteria on agar plates, and also discovered that chemical dyes could stain bacteria, which made it easier to see the microbes under a microscope, this influenced the work of other scientists. These discoveries were extremely significant because they had a direct impact in the prevention and treatment of disease. However, Pasteur’s work had very little influence on the people in England due to the fact that he wasn’t a doctor and his focus had been on food and drink and many doctors in England still believed in spontaneous generation and took time for the ideas to be accepted by the British government.

During the 1800s Florence Nightingale played a significant part in influencing improvements with hospitals. She believed in the miasma theory, so she emphasised the importance of hygiene, fresh air and good supplies. She worked at the military hospital during the Crimean war in 1854-56, this is where she made sure the nurses were trained and the patients were treated with care and that clean supplies were provided to ensure that the injured were safe. Due to her work hospitals cleanliness and organisation improved dramatically and the nurses were trained, but Pasteur’s theory helped the improvement in hygiene.


Before 1800, alcohol and opium was used during surgery but had very little success in easing pain during the operations.

By 1844, laughing gas was being used but this failed to ease pain and meant that the patients remained conscious.

From 1846, ether was being used as an anaesthetic and made the patient completely unconscious and it lasted a long time which meant there was little risk of the patient waking up during surgery but patients could cough during a procedure and be sick which could cause problems and lead to a death due to choking. It was also highly flammable.

From 1847, chloroform was being used and was discovered by James Simpson. Chloroform was very effective with few side effects. However, it was difficult to get the correct dosage which meant that it was easy to die due to an overdose. An inhaler was used later on which helped to regulate the dosage.

Finally, cocaine was used as the first local anaesthetic in 1884. In 1905, a less addictive version was used as a general anaesthetic.  

The development of antiseptics:

1861= half of the patients would die due to infection.

1864= Lister learns that carbolic acid kills parasites.

1865= Lister soaks bandages in carbolic acid to avoid wounds getting infected.

1866= Lister uses carbolic acid to clean wounds and equipment and invents a spray to kill germs in the air.

1867= Lister states that his wards had been free from infection for 9 months. He publishes his ideas.


Aseptic surgery. Lister’s work influenced others to search for methods to prevent the spread of infection. By 1900, operating theatres and wards were thoroughly cleaned using aseptic techniques.

Anaesthetics did have a significant impact on people because surgery became pain free and patients didn’t struggle but before aseptic surgery was developed it meant that surgeons could take more time but this increased the death rates because infection was able to get further into the body, this was known as the black period of surgery. Once aseptic surgery had been developed the death rate decreased.


The development of vaccinations:

Pasteur’s team of scientists discovered that a weakened version of a disease-causing microbes could be used to create immunity from that disease. Pasteur developed vaccines for animals, Pasteur’s work inspired other scientists to develop vaccines for human diseases.

Edward Jenner was able to create a vaccine for smallpox, Jenner collected evidence of the success and the failure of smallpox inoculations. In the 1790s he tested his theory, when he realised that the milk aids who had, had cowpox did not develop smallpox. He tested his theory on the young boy called James Phipps by infecting him with cowpox and then later infecting him with a mild dose of smallpox. By 1800, around 100000 people had been vaccinated. In 1840, the government started paying for vaccinations, which were finally made compulsory in 1852. By 1979, it had been announced that smallpox had been wiped out. Jenner’s work was extremely effective in the prevention of disease as it helped everyone.

In 1875, the Public Health Act was established and ordered that city authorities must provide clean water, sewers, public toilets, street lighting, public parks and inspect lodging houses for cleanliness, check the quality of food sold in shops and employ a public officer of health to monitor the areas.


In the years 1848-49 John Snow observed the cholera epidemic and worked on the theory that cholera was spread through contaminated water sources, not by miasma. As when cholera broke out in Soho in 1854, he mapped all the deaths and found a strong link to one of the water pumps on Broad street, so he removed the handle from the pump, so that people couldn’t take water form the pump this led to the deaths decreasing. It was later discovered that a cesspit had been leaking into the water supply. In 1855, he presented his findings to the government, many didn’t believe him because he did not have any scientific evidence and there was no evidence until the Germ theory in 1861. Snow’s work led to the development of the Public Health Act and also the London sewer system. Snow’s work combined with other evidence such as the Great Stink in 1858.

During this time there was more change but still a fair amount of continuity but the work of these people did have a greater impact on everyday people’s lives.


Modern c.1900-present

Factors= war, chance, individual genius, government, communication, technology

By 1900 people now understood that disease was caused by microbes/germs.


Mendel showed how human characteristics could be passed through the generations.

By the 20th century when electron microscopes had been made and x-rays had been made it mean that scientists could look at human cells in greater detail. This is what led to the discovery of DNA.

Watson and Crick discovered that DNA had genetic codes and that the codes of DNA fitted together.

They analysed the work of Wilkins and Franklin and eventually worked out that DNA had a double helix structure in 1953.

In 1990, Watson led the Human Genome Project and started identifying and mapping every gene in the human DNA.


The Human Genome project meant that there was a better understanding of some of the genetic condition, predicting whether individuals are at a higher risk of developing an illness or disease and it also led to the discovery that stem cells can be grown into different cells. However, there was not yet a cure or effective treatment for most genetic conditions nor a way of preventing most genetic diseases.


By the 1900, people had discovered that lifestyle factors can affect health.

During the 20th century there were huge changes in the ways that illnesses were diagnosed as x-rays, monitors and labs to test blood were all being used.

Also, during this time there were medical technological advances in x-rays, microscopes, hypodermic needles and prosthetic limbs.

Due to the war there was a huge surge in people using plastic surgery to reconstruct their faces due to damage that would have Ben sustained during the war.

Ehrlich and his team searched for a ‘magic bullet’ which would be used to specifically target one disease causing microbe. In 1909, they discovered that they had rejected a chemical compound that would have worked which was Salvarsan 606.

In 1932, Domagk developed the second magic bullet which caused some types of blood poisoning.




The first antibiotic to be discovered was penicillin which was discovered by chance by Alexander Fleming. In 1928, Fleming noticed that bacteria in a petrified dish was being killed by the penicillium mould. He tested it on other bacteria and found that penicillin was a an excellent antibiotic.

In 1929, Fleming published his findings but did not believe that penicillin would work on living people and he had no funding to continue his research.

Years later Florey and Chain and their team continued the research on penicillin. And it proved effective on mice so they tested it on humans. (1940)

1941, US drug companies help fund the production of penicillin. USA enters WW2.

1942, mass production of penicillin by US drug companies.

1943, mass production by UK drug companies.

1945, Hodgkin identified penicillin’s chemical structure.

1951, first chemical copy of penicillin was created.


There were also advances in keyhole and microsurgery and robotic surgery during the 20th century.

In 1948, the NHS (national health service) was set up Bevan. It was funded by taxes and it allowed everyone to have access to seeing a GP, hospital care and operations and general health care.

Since 1948, the government has taken more action to prevent getting ill by funding more testing and vaccinations, better disposal of rubbish, laws reducing air and water pollution and laws banning the advertising of smoking in public places. There are campaigns which help to improve our lifestyles.


From 1900-present there has been the most change because it is clear that during this time there was more effort to prevent and treat disease and ultimately help everyday people’s lives.










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