early 16th century: Paracelsus, an alchemist by trade, rejects occultism and pioneers the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine
1500 - 1800
1543 - Andreas Vesalius publishes De Fabrica Corporis Humani which corrects Greek medical errors and revolutionizes medicine
1546 - Girolamo Fracastoro proposes that epidemic diseases are caused by transferable seedlike entities
1553 - Spanish physician Miguel Serveto describes the circulation of blood through the lungs and is accused of heresy by Catholics and Protestants alike; burned at the stake for heresy the same year at age 44
1559 - Realdo Colombo describes the circulation of blood through the lungs in detail
1563 - Garcia de Orta founds tropical medicine with his treatise on Indian diseases and treatments
1596 - Li Shizhen publishes Běncǎo Gāngmù or Compendium of Materia Medica, containing 1,892 distinct herbs and other materia medica. There are some 11,096 side prescriptions to treat common illness.
1603 - Girolamo Fabrici studies leg veins and notices that they have valves which allow blood to flow only toward the heart
1628 - William Harvey explains that the vein-artery system is a continuous loop and that the heart works like a pump to push blood in a one-way circuit through the body, in Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus
1701 - Giacomo Pylarini gives the first smallpox innoculations in Europe. They were widely practised in the east before then.
1747 - James Lind discovers that citrus fruits prevent scurvy
1763 - Claudius Aymand performs the first successful appendectomy
1818 - British obstetrician James Blundell performs the first successful human blood transfusion.
1842 - Crawford Long performs the first surgical operation using anaesthesia with ether
1847 - Ignaz Semmelweis discovers how to prevent puerperal fever, childbed fever, a blood infection passed to women during childbirth by their doctors. The fever killed one-third of mothers in some hospitals of the time.
1849 - Elizabeth Blackwell is the first woman to gain a medical degree
1867 - Lister publishes Antiseptic Principle of the Practice of Surgery, based partly on Pasteur's work.
1987 - Ben Carson, leading a 70-member medical team in Germany, was the first to separate occipital craniopagus twins.
2003 - Carlo Urbani, of Doctors without Borders alerted the World Health Organization to the threat of the SARS virus, triggering the most effective response to an epidemic in history. Urbani succumbs to the disease himself in less than a month.
1. The date at which the Sushruta Samhita was compiled is uncertain.
A Tribute to Hinduism and other sources agree that Sushruta lived in the 5th century B.C., and so even the date 500 B.C. may be too early.