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September 29, 2017

The 25 'most influential' physicians of the past 100 years, according to Medscape

Daily Briefing

For their pioneering work on human DNA, Francis Crick, James Watson, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin share the No. 1 spot on Medscape's "Most Influential Physicians in the Past Century."

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Details on ranking

For the rankings, a panel of Medscape editors and advisors assessed physicians whose work in the last century significantly affected the medical industry. The panel also considered factors such as "ethnic and gender centricity," alternative areas of medicine, and people who might have been "excluded from traditional historical discourse."

Ultimately, the panel "endeavored to identify the 25 giants of medicine from the last century who we feel stand apart due to the extent of their achievements whose contributions have had a major impact on the development of medical practice."

Medscape's 25 'most influential' physicians from the last 100 years

The top-five ranking individuals considered most influential by Medscape include, in order of rank:

  1. Crick (1916-2004), Watson (1928-), Wilkins (1916-2004), and Franklin (1920-1958), scientists—not physicians, Medscape acknowledges—whose pioneering research on human DNA had "far-ranging influence over medicine." Three of the scientists—Crick, Watson, and Wilkins—shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living materials," Medscape reports, but Franklin's contributions to the field remained largely "overlooked";

  2. Jonas Salk (1914-1995), a physician who developed the first polio vaccine, whose use in the United States caused the nation's incidence of polio to drop from 45,000 cases per year in the 1950s to 910 cases per year in 1962;

  3. Benjamin Spock (1903-1998), a physician who wrote the Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, "one of the best-selling books in history," which with his other publications on childcare "radically altered the path of child-rearing in the Western world and continues to influence the care of children well into the 21st century"; 

  4. Aaron Beck (1921-), a physician who established the field of cognitive therapy;

  5. Carl Jung (1875-1961), a physician who according to MedScape is considered the "founder of analytical psychology," and whose work established concepts of introversion, extroversion, and the collective unconscious.

Other physicians recognized by Medscape include, in order of rank:

6. Barry Marshall (1951-) and J. Robin Warren (1937-);
7. Basil Hirschowitz (1925-2013);
8. Brian Druker (1955-);
9. Charles Kelman (1930-2004);
10. Cicely Williams (1893-1992);
11. Dame Cicely Saunders (1918-2005);
12. George Papanicolaou (1883-1962);
13. David Sackett (1934-2015);
14. E. Donnall Thomas (1920-2012) and Joseph Murray (1919-2012);
15. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004);
16. Mahmut Gaz Yaşargil (1925-);
17. Joseph Kirsner (1909-2012);
18. Eric Topol (1954-);
19. Lawrence Einhorn (1942-);
20. Stanley Dudrick (1935-);
21. Stanley Prusiner (1942-);
22. Victor McKusick (1921-2008);
23. Virginia Apgar (1909-1974);
24. Zora Janzekovic (1918-2015); and
25. Helen Brooke Taussig (1898-1986)(Rourke, Medscape, 9/25).

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