Edward Jenner: Developer Of The Smallpox Vaccine

The inventor of the smallpox vaccine, Edward Jenner,also popularized the use of the the vaccination.

Edward Jenner was born in 1749 in Gloucestershire, England. He was the youngest son of the vicar of Berkeley. When he was twelve years old, he served as a surgeon's apprentice. He received a medical degree from St. Andrew's University in 1792 and became a successful physician and surgeon.

Before the vaccination for smallpox, the disease was rampant in many parts of the world, particularly among children. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of people who contracted smallpox died from it, and those who survived were permanently disfigured with severe pockmarks. In the Orient, people were inoculated with matter taken from people who had a mild case of smallpox. In the 18th century, this practice was introduced into England by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. This inoculation was not always effective. About 2 percent of the time, people who were inoculated had died from smallpox.

Dr. Jenner was aware of the belief that people, mainly farmers, who contracted cowpox, never contracted smallpox. He realized that inoculating people with cowpox would immunize them against smallpox. He researched this issue and decided to perform a test to confirm his hypothesis. On May 14, 1796, he inoculated an eight-year-old boy, named James Phipps, with matter taken from a cowpox pustule. The matter was taken from the hand of Sarah Nelmes, who had caught the disease from a cow named Blossom. Phipps developed coxpox and quickly recovered. Several weeks later, Phipps was inoculated with smallpox, and did not contract the disease. In 1798, Jenner reported his work in the book, "An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccine." This book prompted the medical professionals to adopt the practice of vaccination. He wrote five other articles about vaccination and was the recipient of many medals and honors.

Dr. Jenner freely provided his technique to the medical community and promoted the practice of vaccination, which was adopted in most of the world. In 1802, he was awarded 10,000 sterling by the British Parliament and a few years later, 20,000 sterling. Jenner vaccinated the poor free of charge in a thatched hut, which he called his Temple of Vaccinia. For the rest of his life, he performed many scientific experiments, made detailed observations of birds and mammals, wrote medical articles and treated his patients.

Dr. Edward Jenner died in his home in the town of Berkeley in 1823. The Jenner Museum and Conference Centre in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England contains memorabilia of Jenner's life and work. The museum is located in Jenner's home, where his study has been recreated. In addition to exhibits on the vaccination for smallpox, the museum contains records on his experiments to launch a hydrogen balloon, and his studies into the life cycle of the cuckoo and hibernation of hedgehogs. In the museum gardens, there is a conservatory with vines that yield a large crop of grapes every summer. The medical science known as immunology is based on Jenner's experiments. In addition to vaccination against disease, immunology is the basis for allergy treatment, transplantation, AIDS, cancer therapy and autoimmune diseases.

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