Edward Jenner

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Edward Jenner was born on May 17th 1749, he was an English physician and scientist who was the pioneer of smallpox vaccine, the world’s first vaccine, He is often called “the father of immunology”, and his work is said to have “saved more lives than the work of any other human” he was also the first person to describe the brood parasitism of the cuckoo.

Jenner’s continuing work on vaccination prevented him from continuing his ordinary medical practice. He was supported by his colleagues and the King in petitioning Parliament, and was granted £10,000 in 1802 for his work on vaccination. In 1807, he was granted another £20,000 after the Royal College of Physicians had confirmed the widespread efficacy of vaccination.

Jenner continued his research and reported it to the Royal Society, which did not publish the initial paper. After revisions and further investigations, he published his findings on the 23 cases. Some of his conclusions were correct, some erroneous; modern microbiological and microscopic methods would make his studies easier to reproduce. The medical establishment, cautious then as now, deliberated at length over his findings before accepting them. Eventually, vaccination was accepted, and in 1840, the British government banned variolation, which was the use of smallpox to induce immunity – and provided vaccination using cowpox free of charge.

Jenner was found in a state of apoplexy on 25 January 1823, with his right side paralyzed. He never fully recovered and eventually died of an apparent stroke, his second, on 26 January 1823, aged 73. He was buried in the Jenner family vault at the Church of St. Mary’s, Berkeley, Gloucestershire.

Edward Jenner was survived by one son and one daughter, his elder son having died of tuberculosis at the age of 21.

 

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