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Who Are The Doctors Who Changed Modern Medical History?

Updated on May 5, 2017
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Mona writes a column for Enrich Magazine which is distributed in five countries. She is interested in learning as she writes.

Cover of Enrich Magazine, where my article was publicshed

Easter issue of Enrich Magazine
Easter issue of Enrich Magazine | Source

Modern doctor pioneers in medicine

Modern medical doctor pioneers should be celebrated. It is well known that most medical advances were made after World War I and II. Less well known is that the pioneering spirit for life and health continues. Five modern medical heroes are:

Date of Issue

My article came out in the April, 2014 issue of Enrich Magazine
My article came out in the April, 2014 issue of Enrich Magazine | Source

Stephen Grupp, MD, PhD. : Discovering New Treatment For Leukemia

Symptoms of Leukemia easily, among others. Leukemia, or cancer of the blood, is a killer. However, in the last 25 years great strides have been made.

Dr. Grupp continues to pursue the war againnt Leukemia. Recently, he successfully performed an experimental procedure on a five year old girl named Emily Whitehead, according to WebMd. Emily was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is 85% curable. Unfortunately, she fell within the 15% incurable group. After chemotherapy Emily relapsed twice. By 2012 she was expected to contract kidney failure within days.

Enrich Magazine is circulated in five countries

Circulated in five countries. Black print is not so clear, so I circled it in orange.
Circulated in five countries. Black print is not so clear, so I circled it in orange. | Source
Stephen Grupp, MD
Stephen Grupp, MD | Source

Altering Cells to Respond to Treatment

Dr. Grupp, Director of Translational Research at the Center for Childhood Cancer Research in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, made a daring suggestion -- make genetic changes to Emily’s T-cells to strengthen them in combating the cancer cells. The risk was that only three adults had undergone the treatment, making Emily the first child to have the procedure done.

When he apprised the Whiteheads of the treatment and its risks, they decided to go for it. During the therapy regimen, Emily fell into a coma and had a 1/1000 ratio of possibility for survival. However, a drug was found that reversed her condition. Emily awoke from her coma, cancer free. Today she is eight years old. Dr. Grupp has administered the same treatment to 17 other children with 80% of them in remission.

Targeted Cancer Therapy with T-Cells | Memorial Sloan Kettering

Page 3 of my article

Enrich Magazin
Enrich Magazin | Source

First page of article

I encircled my byline in red and orange
I encircled my byline in red and orange | Source

Page 2 of my Enrich article


Dr. Ray L. Catague: So Much Accomplished With So Little Money

While the Philippines is reputable for its culture of corruption, Dr. Ray L. Catague proved that so much can be accomplished with so little money, especially in the Southern Philippine provinces of Cotabato, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao and Sulu (all primarily Muslim majority regions), according to RAFI Triennial Awards.

Catague was initially the Public Health Officer of Mlang, Cotabato. He took note of the health problems in the area – teen pregnancies, violence, HIV-Aids, poor sanitation, malnutrition, and a below minimum government budget.

Catague, a doctor and health officer, used his skills in organizing people to get things done. First, he began an adolescent reproductive health program by acquiring the help of youth volunteers to spread an information campaign about HIV-Aids. He believed that idealistic young people are the best role models for other youth. He also established teen centers for activities and counseling.

Social Issues, Nutrition and Sanitation

Social Issues

His Anti-HIV program was also expanded to include males and prostitutes. With the help of Local Government Units, barrio organizations and non-governmental organizations, an information and education program was launched, and monitored for progress.


Catague also introduced a nutrition program, Purok Modeling program. He got the funding by convincing the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) to use the budget allotted for a sports fest for a nutrition program instead. This program taught the community how to cook inexpensive yet nutritious meals daily.

Catague started the Nutri-Pack Calamay Hati, a complete nutritional food that was less expensive and more delicious than lugaw (soup with rice and egg), which is usually served to those who are undernourished or ill. For this, he won a USAID award in 1999.


A sanitation program was implemented by distributing toilet bowls to barangays upon their request. Materials came from the Local Government Units (one sack of cement could make up to seven toilets). The community provided the labor (housing for the toilet) and Catague provided his technical know-how and the mold.

Catague’s success in Cotabato led to his working with the UN Fund for Population Activities. He established and implemented a reproductive health program in Cotabato, Tawi – Tawi, Sulu, Lanao, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.

Catague was given the Jose Rizal Award by the Philippine Medical Association – the highest medical award in the Philippines.


Joseph JY Sung: Remember SARS

Eleven years ago, SARS (Severe acute Respiratory Syndrome), a mysterious killer disease, suddenly emanated from Guangdong province, China. The year was 2003 and in haste SARS spread throughout China and caused 299 deaths in Hong Kong. Many of those who died were hospital workers who were treating patients afflicted with the illness.

Eventually, SARS spread worldwide, causing 775 deaths. This was an unknown illness for which no laboratory tests existed, and of which very little was known regarding its derivation and its qualities. For this reason, Time Magazine named Dr. Sung from Hong Kong among the Asian Heroes of 2003.

Professor Joseph JY Sung, at that time headed the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine at the Prince of Wales Hospital, aka the Chinese University of Hong Kong teaching hospital.

Sung says what helped greatly was media reports about SARS that managed to slip through a controlled media that did not permit reporting of disease outbreaks. After SARS, the government realized that accurate reportage of new illnesses were essential in understanding a disease and finding a cure.

Sung recalls how in the initial days of treating SARS, the hospital staff seemingly was working completely in the dark. “There were so many unfavorable factors,” Sung told Want China Times. But the healthcare workers stood together, a solid team, and they beat SARS. In fact, the last SARS outbreak reported by the World Health Organization was in 2004.

Have you or anyone you known, had an illness that seemed impossible to heal?

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Prof. Joseph JY Sung: Heroic Health Workers Died From Mystery Disease While Treating Others

The first victims of SARS were the health workers, who treated victims for an illness that they knew nothing of.
The first victims of SARS were the health workers, who treated victims for an illness that they knew nothing of. | Source

The story of SARS

More than a mystery disease, SARS is a story of brave doctors and hospital workers who tackled an enemy they knew nothing about. They were the first in line, and it was every inch a battle as going to war, and some died in the effort to overcome this mystery disease. Please consider reading this book, Rogue, so that we can see that doctors not only deal with predictable illnesses, but are at the forefront of diseases of which very little to nothing is known about.


Anwar Fazal: Sustainable Human Development

Anwar Fazal, Regional Coordinator of the Urban Management Program for Asia and the Pacific (UMPAP), is concurrently affiliated with the UNDP where his work involves sustainable human development projects for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Fazal once said, "Babies cry the same the world over, our blood is red in color. There is so much that makes us the same. It is important that we do not forget that human beings throughout the world have this linkage," according to the UNDP.

He considers the entire world in his vision for health and development, but he is proudly Malaysian. This multi-awarded man has accomplished so much because of one vision. He told UNDP News, "If our cities are to be our homes, they have to be developed in ways that are socially just, ecologically sustainable, politically participatory, economically productive and culturally vibrant."

Anwar Faizal: Sustainable Human Development


Work Accomplished

Fazal’s work is plentiful, and his awards, equally so. The awards alone would fill enough pages for another article. The work he has achieved include establishing the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), and World Breastfeeding Week, which over 100 countries celebrate every year.

He also founded Pesticides Action Network (PAN), and Health Action International (HAI). UNDP New York freely admits that Fazal made the phrase, “Sustainable human development” his life motto long before the United Nations made it a catch phrase. Fazal has focused his life work on women’s and children’s issues, consumer rights, the environment, and people empowerment.

The world is fortunate that Fazal used his brilliance, creativity and work ethic in these areas. A colleague described his brain as “more like a computer chip” especially because of his extraordinary memory.

TEDxBratislava - Andrey IVANOV -- Is the economic growth the same as development


To list down all of Fazal’s awards would require a second article. Instead, we will mention the more recent ones, such as the 1995 International Health Award (given by the La Leche League International) for trailblazing work in advocating women and children’s welfare globally.

Fazal also won The Right Livelihood Award (an "Alternative" Nobel Prize) in 1982 for his unrelenting endeavors towards protecting public interests. He is in the Environmental Hall of Fame (Mother Earth News) and won the Global 500 Award by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 1988.


Dr. William Tan: An Inspiration to the Disabled

William Tan was born with everything going against him. He was the son of a sidewalk vendor, and at the age of two, he contracted polio which paralyzed him from the waist downwards. But he told Singapore Heroes, “I don't have the use of my legs but I shall make the best of my brain and my arms that are not paralyzed.”

From the start he was a fighter. He was kicked out of kindergarten because other children bullied him. In response, he would grab their arms and bite their hands. He then went to Selegie Primary and was a top student. He won a scholarship to Raffles Institution, and there he dreamed of becoming a scientist and a doctor. In pursuit of his dream, he won scholarships to study at Harvard and Oxford.

Doctor, Neuroscientist and Wheelchair Athlete for Charity

Aside from his work as a doctor and neuroscientist, Dr. Tan is an accomplished wheelchair athlete. He embarked on the sport at the age of 15 and represented his country, Singapore, at the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul, a fundraising activity. In fact, he has joined up to 60 ultra marathons globally and raised some $16 million for local and international charities.

Dr. Tan was also the first man on a wheelchair to finish the North Pole marathon, which was a global challenge that covered 17 marathons in seven continents. He still has goals. His newest dream is to raise S$2 million for “Global Flying Hospitals”, which are aircraft that turn into surgery rooms and fly to developing countries to offer free medical service.

Trilympics 2008

Afflicted with Cancer

Note: The year following this interview, Dr. Tan was afflicted with cancer. However, he continues to raise funds for worthy projects, this time for cancer patients who are in need of funds for their treatment.


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    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Hello Anne Harrison, thank you for your kind words. I had just come from your own HB site and you have a lovely writing style. Bravo!

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 

      4 years ago from Australia

      A fascinating article - there are always stories to be told, much more to the everyday life of people than we realise. Thank you for sharing

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you imtii, my best regards to you and thank you for the visit:)

    • imtii profile image

      Imtiaz Ahmed 

      4 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

      The greatest tribute to the greatest people. I became very when reading about Dr Tan. Nice hub Grand Old Lady Gave you thumbs up, Hope it helps.

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you Jhamann for reading the article and your kind words. It's very nice of you to stop by and have a great week:).

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      4 years ago from Reno NV

      Some great doctors who have made incredible contributions to society. Thank you for this well written hub. Jamie

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      SuzetteNaples, thank you for your kind words and for sharing this. Yes, these medical heroes are not well known, maybe because they aren't controversial, they just do their work with a strong sense of purpose. Writing this piece was a revelation to me as well. I never realized how medical workers themselves can be exposed to real dangers, especially when dealing with an unknown disease. God bless, and have a wonderful day.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      4 years ago from Taos, NM

      This is such an inspirational article. These doctors are such a credit to their profession. I have not heard about one of them before this and that is a shame. They all are so unselfish when it comes to healing others. What brilliant and creative minds. And, your article in the magazine is wonderful, too. What great subject matter to write about. Thanks for sharing this with us. Voted up+ and shared.

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you Suzanne Day. I love the fact that you voted this "Useful". It's true, we have to discern the genuine from the fake. It is inspiring to know of doctors who just focus on doing their job well rather than trying to immediately become media personalities.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 

      4 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      It's so fantastic to still have pioneers in medicine, especially after the way mainstream medicine treats these people. Today, so many "treatments" are an excuse for big $$$ and some (especially, for example, pills for treating mental issues) do not help their patients very much. Voted useful!

    • profile image

      Jesrey Catague 

      4 years ago

      Thank you for your sympathy ... May all of them rest in peace. Great people,Great minds but most of all great hearts.

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Jesrey Catague, I'm sorry for your loss. Even two years after your father passed away, the pain remains and may never, ever go away. I know I still miss my mother. Your father is a true hero, and I'm honored to have been able to write about him, and more so, honored that you have come across this article about him. God bless you, and keep the faith.

    • profile image

      Jesrey Catague 

      4 years ago

      I miss my dad RIP...

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Nell Rose, Lol. Well, very glad that you have commented. Truly, the doctors in the piece are extraordinary. Wish you well in all things, including gold health for all:)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      I thought I had already commented on here! lol! Ah well never mind. This was a great tribute to all those amazing people! And I learned something new, so thanks! nell

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you, TravMaj. When a relative was very ill, my husband and I realized that doctors get to be heroes every day just by the nature of the job. A young doctor saved a relative's life, after a three week hospital stay. But through this article I saw that it goes far beyond saving lives, to discovering new treatments, experienting, working in the area of public health, and being an example and an inspiration to others who are born with less, but can aspire to be heroes. Thank you for enjoying this story:)

    • travmaj profile image


      4 years ago from australia

      You certainly opened my eyes with this great tribute to such awesome people. I too found myself emotional when reading about Dr Tan, what a story he has to tell and what inspiration. This is such and inspiring and engaging hub - thank you.

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you Eddy, on a sleepless night like tonight, a comment like this from you can make my er, night:). I expect to sleep well as sunlight approaches. It's all good.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      4 years ago from Wales

      A wonderful and interesting hub. Thank you so much for sharing with us and I look forward to reading so many more from you.


    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you Ms. Dora, to tell you the truth, when I did this article it was a shocker to me that doctors do more than just what we think they do. They get to be heroes every day and oftentimes, pioneers. They must have this special reverence for life since they chose a profession to save it. Doing this piece was inspiration overload for me, and hearing people like you and other hubbers pick out the parts that touched them the most has given me new insights as I think about this article.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      I like Fazal's quote: "It is important that we do not forget that human beings throughout the world have this linkage." The strides made in different parts of the world and at different times improve us all. Tan is certainly special. Thank you for sharing these inspirational stories, and congratulations on your magazine publications.

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      EricDierker, how wonderful to know that your father is a doctor. It must have been pretty handy when you were growing up!

      Billy Buc, thank you for stopping by and liking my article. BTW, my compost is gonna need a larger tub. Well, 0ne step at a time

      DDE Thank you for your kind words, and I'm delighted that you stopped by to visit:)

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you Eric Dierker, I am so flattered that you took time to read my piece, as I always find yours to be truly inspiring. How wonderful to know that your father was a doctor. All professions are truly not created equal. I learned this when a med student told me she needed to pass seven kinds of math to be a doctor. Hello.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Great individuals indeed and I did know someone who had an illness and did not heal from it. You have summed up such interesting and useful information.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great stuff here Grand Lady. My father was of such caliber and I was always in awe.

      True that! "The greatest heroes of all are ones that use the gift God gave them to help others" "A greatest love of all is one who lays his whole life down dedicated to save others"

    • grand old lady profile imageAUTHOR

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you FlourishAnyway:). I agree, we lack an "inspirational" category, as well as a "humor" category. But the powers of be probably have a reason for the things that they do. Thank you very much:)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What a wonderful tribute to some truly brilliant people. Thank you for educating me about a couple that I did not know about. Well done my friend.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      I am choked up a bit with emotion at the thought of that young disabled boy who was bullied, kicked out of kindergarten because of it, and who went on to become a great man. His quote about not being able to use his legs but being determined to use his mind is an inspiration to us all. These are great heroes, and I enjoyed this hub. I wish there were a button for "inspirational" but am choosing awesome, useful, interesting.


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