Cover image for Accidental medical discoveries : how tenacity and pure dumb luck changed the world / Robert W. Winters, MD.
Accidental medical discoveries : how tenacity and pure dumb luck changed the world / Robert W. Winters, MD.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Skyhorse Publishing, [2016]

Physical Description:
xi, 248 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 23 cm
An entertaining and enlightening look at the discovery of twenty-five medical breakthroughs that changed the world--unintentionally.


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1 Bob Harkins Branch 610.9 WIN Book Adult General Collection

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Many of the world's most important and life-saving devices and techniques were often discovered purely by accident. Serendipity, timing, and luck played a part in the discovery of unintentional cures and breakthroughs:

A plastic shard in an RAF pilot's eye leads to the use of plastic for the implantable lens.
The inability to remove a titanium chamber from rabbit's bone leads to dental implants.
Viagra was discovered by a group of chemists, working in the lab to find a new drug to alleviate the pain of angina pectoris.
A stretch of five weeks of unusually warm weather in 1928 played a role in assisting Dr. Alexander Fleming in his analysis of bacterial growth and the discovery of penicillin.
After studying the effects of the venom injected by the bite of a deadly pit viper snake, chemists developed a groundbreaking drug that works to control blood pressure.

Accidental Medical Discoveries is an entertaining and enlightening look at the creation of 25 medical inventions that have changed the world - unintentionally. The book is presented in a lively and engaging way, and will appeal to a wide variety of readers, from history buffs to trivia fanatics to those in the medical profession.

Author Notes

Robert W. Winters. MD is an experienced medical scientist, doctor, teacher, and writer. He is a graduate of Indiana University and of the Yale School of Medicine. He was a professor of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. He resides in Denmark.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prefacep. ix
Part I Surgery And Anesthesiap. 1
1 The Gleam of Cold Steel: Surgery without Anesthesiap. 3
2 Ether and Nitrous Oxide: Blessed Reliefp. 7
3 Chloroform: The Clergy Objectsp. 21
4 Cocaine Anesthesia: Freud's Favoritep. 31
Part II Implantsp. 37
5 The Artificial Lens: A Legacy of Wartimep. 39
6 Good as New: Dental Implantsp. 47
Part III Drugs That Affect The Bloodp. 57
7 Vitamin K: Began with a Bleeding Chickp. 59
8 Dicumarol and Warfarin: Began with a Bleeding Cowp. 63
Part IV Drugs That Fight Infectionp. 71
9 Smallpox: The Cure of a Lesser Evilp. 73
10 Penicillin: The Crucial Role of Weatherp. 85
11 Streptomycin: A Major Disputep. 95
12 Cephalosporins: Something in the Sewagep. 107
13 Peptic Ulcers: A Discovery in an Empty Labp. 113
Part V Drugs That Affect The Heartp. 123
14 Nitroglycerin and Amyl Nitrite: Boom!p. 125
15 Digitalis: The Shropshire Woman and the Foxglovep. 131
16 The Tranquilizers: Two Chance Discoveriesp. 139
17 LSD: A Mind-Blowing Accidentp. 145
18 Lithium: The First Guinea Pigs ... Were Guinea Pigs!p. 151
19 Thorazine: A Cure from Curarep. 157
Part VI Thevitamins (Vit(Al) Amines)p. 165
20 The Naming of Vitamins: The Vital Missing Piecesp. 167
21 Vitamin B1: Brown Rice Cures Beriberip. 171
22 Vitamin C: Another Battle for Priorityp. 181
23 Vitamin D: Bowlegged Lion Cubsp. 191
Part VII Other Medical Discoveriesp. 201
24 Insulin: The Role of Insomniap. 203
25 Viagra: A Pleasant Surprisep. 215
26 X-rays: Bertha's Handp. 225
Afterword: Acceptance of New Discoveriesp. 235
About the Authorp. 241
Indexp. 243

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