The Making of Modern Medicine is a new BBC Radio 4 program that will chart more than 2000 years of medical progress. The series is running every weekday until Friday, March 16th. You will be able to listen to all of the 30 (!) episodes by going to the official webpage. Once it runs through, we will make a post with links to all the episodes for your listening pleasure. The first chapter has just aired, and is now available on the BBC’s website.
From the BBC’s intro to the program:
Modern medicine’s achievements in countering illness and mortality owe their origins to a scientific revolution in France 200 years ago.
In the very early 1800s, in the wake of the French Revolution, a group of energetic and influential medics based mainly around Paris, became the pioneers of modern medicine.
Their aim was to reform medicine along the lines that physics and chemistry had been developed in the course of the 18th century – to give it a scientific basis.
Medicine was now to be based on experiment and observation, and to rely on the senses rather than the imagination when looking for causes.
In other words, they gave medicine a typically Enlightenment treatment…
The events of the French Revolution triggered a big-bang which completely transformed medicine.
After centuries of near stagnation, medicine embarked on the huge scientific task of classifying human disease.
The foundations laid by Laennec, Corvisart and others opened the door to allow scientists to discover much more about how and why people become ill and what can be done to treat and cure them.