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The Most Influential Women In Medicine throughout history.

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The Most Influential Women In Medicine throughout history.

The Most Influential Women In Medicine throughout history.

Despite the historical and current challenges women face in making their way in the world of medicine, women have proven themselves to be enormous contributors to medicine throughout history. Today, half of all medical school graduates are female, and women occupy roles as doctors and researchers at top notch hospitals all over the world. Women have made enormous contributions to science and medicine, and often did it without recognition. Today, in recognition of International Women's Day 2019, we bring some examples of a small fraction of the most influential women in medicine throughout history.

Metrodora was a greek physician and author of the oldest medical text known to have been written by a woman, On the Diseases and Cures for Women. Her medical treatise covers many areas of medicine, including gynecology. It was widely referenced by other medical writers in ancient Greece and Rome, and was also translated and published in Medieval Europe. 


Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. After being rejected by several universities, Blackwell was finally accepted to Geneva Medical College in 1847. She graduated first in her class in 1849. In 1857, she opened the New York Infirmary for Women and Children with her sister, Dr. Emily Blackwell (the third woman to earn an MD) and Dr Marie Zakrzewska.


Florence Nightingale OM, RRC, DStJ was an English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing.Nightingale came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, in which she organized care for wounded soldiers.

Marie Curie. Polish mathematician and scientist Marie Curie collaborated with her husband, Pierre Curie, to discover two chemical elements in the periodic table: polonium and radium. This important work observed that there was a relationship between radioactivity and the heavy elements of the periodic table, and led to much advancement in medicine. Most notably, it led the way to the development of the x-ray, which remains a important diagnostic device today.

Rosalind Franklin. Best known for her work in understanding the structure of DNA, using x-ray photographs to solve its complexities.  She also did important work on the tobacco mosaic virus and  polio virus. She graduated from Cambridge University in 1941. She worked for many years as a first-rate scientist until her death from cancer in 1958.

Francoise Barré-Sinoussi. Is a celebrated for her discovery of HIV as the cause of the immunodeficiency
disease, AIDS. In 2008, Barré, along with Luc Montaigner, discovered that the HIV retrovirus attacked lymphocytes, a blood cell that plays an important role in the body’s immune system. 


This is not an exhaustive list of notable women in medicine. Many women have contributed significantly to the discovery and treatment of diseases that have saved and improved the lives of millions across the centuries. STEM Women has recognised several other important women in life sciences, including Dr Ariel Hollindshed (born 1930) who has developed vaccines for several types of cancer, and Dr Mildred Dresselhauss (1888-1983), a pioneer of nanotechnology and nanoengineering. You can see the full list here.
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Luis Mendoza is the editor of the MTTJ blog. He is born and raised in Tijuana. He is the father of two (both born and raised in Tijuana as well) and he enjoys football (the real football) and Science Fiction. Did we mention that he is born and raised in Tijuana, and a Certified Medical Tourism Professional.

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