Doctors With Diseases Named After Them

It would seem to be a dubious honor to have a disease named after you, but it has happened to many famous doctors and research scientists .

Dr. Crohn , Dr. Bright, Dr. Huntington, Dr. Hodgkin Dr. Parkinson, Dr. Alzheimer, and others have achieved this eponymous status. They might have preferred to just have had a hospital or a medical library bear their name.

Some may have even preferred having a shopping center, convenience store or car wash named after them, rather than having their name attached to a condition from which thousands of people suffer and die.

Salk on a postage stamp.
Salk on a postage stamp.

Doctors who have made some positive contributions to health care don't always get proper recognition, even though Dr. Jonas Salk ( 1914- 1995) did have his name attached to a life-saving vaccine, was hailed as a national hero for defeating Polio, and had his face on the cover of Time magazine and on a U.S. postage stamp.

Dr. Joseph Lister
Dr. Joseph Lister
Heimlich for dogs.
Heimlich for dogs.

Dr. Joseph Lister (1827-1912) was an English surgeon and medical researcher who pioneered the radical new idea of using strict sterilization procedures and hand washing before surgical procedures. It may seem strange to us, but before his time no one thought this was important.

He had his name made famous by mouthwash.

Dr. Henry Heimlich had an anti-choking maneuver named after him. It has, no doubt, saved many lives of humans . . . and of animals.

They may have been the lucky ones.

What must it be like to be famously known for discovering or identifying something that's infectious, chronic, life-threatening or incapacitating as well as being scarier than reading all the warning labels on your water heater?

Looking at the phenomenon with a slightly more serious eye, it must be said that recognizing a serious problem is the first step to finding a solution.

Most of the diseases listed below got their famous names before 1900, so perhaps this doctor/name trend has run its course.

Dr. Crohn
Dr. Crohn

Crohn's Disease

Crohn's disease is a chronic disorder that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It most commonly affects the small intestine and/or colon.

The disease is named after Dr. Burrill B. Crohn (1884-1983).

In 1932, Dr. Crohn and two colleagues, published a paper describing the characteristics of what is now known as Crohn's disease.

No one knows what causes Crohn's Disease which is related to ulcerative colitis. Some research points to bacterial infection as the main suspect, but nobody is yet sure.

Other recent research suggests that Crohn's results from abnormalities in the way the body's immune system reacts to contents of the gastric tract.

The doctor, himself, must have been a pretty healthy guy, since he lived to the age of 99.

Dr. Bright
Dr. Bright

Bright's Disease

Dr. Richard Bright, 1789-1858) described kidney disease in the early 19th century.

Lack of understanding of kidney function naturally meant that several different conditions could be considered Bright's Disease.

The doctor used a candle and a silver spoon to detect protein in the urine, and published his studies of kidney diseases in 1827.

Bright's disease is now considered a classification of several serious kinds of nephritis.

Since there are many causes of presence of serum albumin (blood plasma protein) in the urine, these conditions are now classified according to their causes which are now more fully understood.

Dr. Huntington
Dr. Huntington

Huntington's Disease

Dr. George Huntington, a rural family practitioner, travelled to the small town of Middleport,Ohio in 1872 to address a local medical group, which included just a few physicians from a sparsely populated farming area.

His short, anecdotal address, was published in the Medical and Surgical Reporter of Philadelphia a few weeks later. It turned out to be a classical description of neurological disease.

Huntington was a son and grandson of physicians, and he remembered some of his fathers patients who dealt with "hereditary chorea ".

It was a rare and terrible disease. Its essential symptoms, noted by Dr. Huntington, included a "hereditary nature," a "tendency toward insanity" and "its manifestation as a grave disease in adult life."

He also described the associated abnormal movements of the patients.

As a neurological disorder, cells in the central part of the brain known as the basal ganglia die, affecting movements, moods, and thinking processes of the person.

Dr. Parkinson
Dr. Parkinson

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's disease is another disorder of the central nervous system.

This system, including the brain and spinal cord, controls everything you do, including moving.

A person with Parkinson's disease gradually loses the ability to control body movements.

In 1817, English physician Dr. James Parkinson (1755- 1824) called it "Shaking Palsy."

Eventually, the disease was named after him.

He published several medical works, and described the symptoms he had seen in 6 individuals, 60 years before the disease was identified by his name

Dr. Hodgkin
Dr. Hodgkin

Hodgkin's Disease

Dr. Thomas Hodgkin, 1798-1866) A pathologist and a pioneer in preventative medicine was the first to describe several cases of cancer originating in the lymph system in 1832.

The lymphatic system is the system in the body that is responsible for fighting off infections.

Though many types of cancer can spread to the lymph system, lymphoma actually begins in the cells of the lymph system itself.

Dr. Alzheimer
Dr. Alzheimer

Alzheimer's Disease

Dr. Alois Alzheimer (1864-1915) described a degenerative disorder of the brain which causes progressive decline in memory and general cognitive abilities in 1906.

In the century since then, treatments for the symptoms have improved to make life better for those affected, but researchers are still looking for causes and cures.

Slowly and inexorably, the disease attacks nerve cells progressive destruction of nerve cells in all parts of the cortex of the brain, as well as some surrounding structures, thereby impairing a person's abilities to govern emotions, recognize errors and patterns,coordinate movement, and remember.

At the last, an afflicted person loses all memory and mental functioning.

There is no recovery, at least,not yet.

Solving any problem, is initially a matter of identifying it properly; all of these doctors set the stage for future breakthroughs in the prevention, treatment and even the possible cure of many frightful medical conditions.

Because of tremendous advances in researching all of these diseases, better therapies and medications have been developed, and hope for eventual cures moves forward.

All of these medical pioneers took the first steps in a long and continuing journey.

The terminology may change, but their effects still remain with many sufferers.

More by this Author


Glenn Frank profile image

Glenn Frank 7 years ago from Southern California

So... who was Dr. Influenza? and I remember when I was in school they called the teachers assistants "aids", but they don't call them that anymore. Hmm.Seems today there is a trend away from naming disease after doctors and toward animals... Swine, Bird, etc.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I was thinking of that too, Now they are worried about insulting the Swine-- so that one has letters and numbers.

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Nelle Hoxie 7 years ago

Very interesting. I read a book - can't remember the title - because Oprah said it was hilarious. After 400 pages of dire circumstances and human depravity, I watched her show to find out what she thought was funny. As an example she cited a scene where small girls named their dolls polio, diptheria, and smallpox.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thanks. That's odd, perhaps she didn't want anyone to touch her dolls.

fortunerep profile image

fortunerep 7 years ago from North Carolina

I wonder what doctor will be named after me?

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I don't know-- maybe you can send a son to medical school.

Melanie 6 years ago

Where are the references?

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country Author

fortunerep: Who is your doctor?

Melanie-- references? To the info? Try Googgle, it's all from generally known sources, not an in depth research.

Thanks for the comments. If you think any information is incorrect, I'd appreciate your input on specifics.

Medical billing 6 years ago

amazing list learnt a lot from the past doctor and inventions

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I'm glad you learned.

Doctors online 5 years ago

I think its a great work . even after they are named.

bob 5 years ago

interesting thanks :)

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country Author

yr welcome.

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wwolfs 4 years ago

Interesting information to learn and to just know about. Thanks for sharing!

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 4 years ago from California Gold Country Author

Thank you for commenting.

Mary McShane profile image

Mary McShane 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Dr. Burrell B Crohn lived to be 99. He died in 1983 as you stated. He had a daughter named Ruth Dickler who is still alive and in her 90's today. His son Dr. Edward B Crohn, died in February 2013 at age 95. He not only was a long liver himself, but raised children who are long livers as well. Here's the son's obit.

Here's the father's obit

A very interesting family.

Your hub took me back to school where I learned about each of these doctors in order to pass a sociology medicine course. Nice trip down memory lane. :)

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 3 years ago from California Gold Country Author

I thought of a couple of others a couple of days ago Addison and Graves-- should put them on the list, I am sure there are many more. I still think it is an interesting form of recognition to have your name associated with a devastating illness.

The Crohn family had a lot to contibute.

Thank you for your comments.

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