Edward Jenner was born in the middle of the 18th century and was a pioneering scientist and medical professional. It is said that Jenner’s inventions have saved more human lives than any other person in the history of humanity. He was the 8th of 9 children in his family and his father served as the local vicar, giving him a strong educational foundation. The simple act of receiving a smallpox inoculation created the foundation of inventiveness that made Jenner such a recognizable name.
Here is just a brief review of what the Father of Immunology was able to contribute to the history of humanity during his lifetime.
Jenner is credited with the invention of the vaccine. Vaccines are different than inoculations because they provide long-term protection against specific diseases. During Jenner’s time, inoculation was risky, especially with smallpox. Nearly 60% of the people who got the smallpox inoculation became infected and 20% of those people would eventually succumb to the disease. In May of 1796, Jenner took the radical step of vaccinating a boy with cowpox instead of the traditional smallpox because he saw the immune response was similar. The emergency experiment was successful and vaccines began to quickly spread around the globe.
#2. Jennerian Institution
Once Jenner was able to prove that vaccines could be effective at stopping a disease like smallpox in its tracks, he began to promote the complete eradication of the deadly disease. In 1803, while working in London, he became involved with this institute so that vaccination could be promoted throughout the country and the rest of the world. Just 5 years later, the Jennerian Institution became the National Vaccine Establishment thanks in part to his work.
#3. The Medical and Chirurgical Society
In 1805, Jenner became a founding member of this society and he presented a number of his research papers there. Today you might now this society better under its current name: the Royal Society of Medicine. This allowed Jenner to be able to spread his knowledge about vaccines to his peers more effectively and this knowledge, which today we might call “open source” technology, helped to further develop vaccine protections.
What is truly remarkable about Jenner’s work is that he gave up everything he had in order to help his fellow man. He never sought to profit from his invention of the vaccine, yet he worked so hard on it that he had to give up his traditional medical practice. The governing bodies of his time recognized the importance of his work and would support him through grants, but this was the only compensation that he typically received from his work.
Edward Jenner changed the course of history. There’s only one question remaining: what can you do to change history too?
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.