NEW EXHIBITION: Great Medical Discoveries: 800 Years of Oxford Innovation

22 November 2013

Great Medical DiscoveriesThe Bodleian Libraries' 2013-2014 exhibition tells the story of Oxford's place in the history of medicine from the medieval period to its current position at the forefront of medical research and clinical practice.

For over 800 years Oxford has attracted innovative and creative scientists, natural philosophers and physicians to create a centre of scientific excellence. Great Medical Discoveries: 800 years of Oxford innovation will chart the city's astonishing history, showcasing discoveries which have shaped medical science over the centuries and have had a worldwide impact on science and medicine.

The exhibition will feature original manuscripts including prescriptions, letters and laboratory notebooks, alongside rare books and artefacts to tell the story of Oxford's contribution to the history of medical science. From the first description of a cell in Hooke's Micrographia in the 17th century to Dorothy Hodgkin's proof of the molecular structure of penicillin during the Second World War, the exhibition will trace the role of Oxford scientists and medics in the discoveries and ground-breaking research that have contributed so much to modern understanding of the workings of the human body.

Highlights of the exhibition:

  • William Harvey's exposition of the circulation of the blood in his hugely influential book, De Motu Cordis (1628)
  • Medical records of Albert Alexander, the first patient to receive penicillin in 1941
  • Apparatus used by the Nobel prize-winner, John Gurdon, to replace the nucleus of a cell, 1960s
  • Christopher Wren’s illustration of the 'Circle of Willis', the arterial blood supply in the brain, discovered by Thomas Willis, 1664
  • Ampoules of anti-haemophilic globulin, the first significant treatment for haemophilia, 1950s
  • Robert Hooke's illustration of the 'cells' in cork as seen through his compound microscope, 1665
  • Prototype of self-adjustable glasses for myopic teenagers in the developing world
Conrad Keating, exhibition curator and Writer-In-Residence, The Wellcome Unit for, the History of Medicine, said: 'The aim of the exhibition is to inspire in others an interest in the history, and the art and science of medicine. By showcasing the remarkable contributions of the city’s Nobel Prize winners, scientific institutions, physicians and industrialists to advancing medical science and reducing human suffering it will show that what has happened in Oxford is important for all time. To be truly pioneering requires tenacity and a spirit of curiosity.'
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