Arthur Ashe, Jr: Tennis Star and AIDS and Urban Health ActivistArthur Robert Ashe, Jr, was born on July 10, 1943, in Richmond, Virginia, and began playing tennis before his 7th birthday. He was taught to read at 4 years of age by his mother Mattie and became an avid reader and a straight-A student. Unfortunately, his mother died of complications from pre-eclampsia when he was 7 years old. Arthur and his younger brother Johnnie were raised by their father, Arthur Ashe, Sr (1920-1989), who worked as a caretaker for the Richmond recreation department.
Gustave Roussy: Swiss-French Neurologist, Pathologist, and Cancer Institute FounderGustave Roussy was born on November 24, 1874, in Vevey, Switzerland, the third of 4 children of Emile-Louis Roussy (1848-1920) and Caroline Gabrielle Aguet (1850-1924). His family were Calvinist Protestants, and his Huguenot ancestors had fled from France to Switzerland after religious persecution following the 1685 revocation of the Edict of Nantes. His father was president of the Nestlé condensed milk company from 1905-1920, which had been co-founded by Gustave’s grandfather Pierre in 1875. After his father’s death, his older brother August became the company president and contributed to the company’s growth into a global food conglomerate.
Helen Clapesattle: Author of a Best-Selling Book About “The Doctors Mayo”For many years, Drs William and Charles Mayo resisted proposals to write a biography of their lives or a comprehensive history of how Mayo Clinic came to exist. The Mayo brothers had endured negative experiences with the media during their careers, often being charged by critics with “unethical advertising” whenever an article about them appeared in a newspaper or a general audience magazine, and they did not want to authorize a potentially superficial, inaccurate story that could draw disparagement from vindictive or jealous colleagues.
Austria’s Unusual Pandemic-Themed Postage Stamps: Toilet Paper, Facemask, BandageSince the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the postal service in Austria has issued 3 stamps that have challenged traditional assumptions of how a postage stamp should look and feel.
Dr Li Wenliang: Wuhan “Whistleblower” and Early COVID-19 VictimLi Wenliang (李文亮), MD, was an ophthalmologist in Wuhan, China, who warned several of his colleagues about the appearance of a new SARS-like virus in December 2019, at the very beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Initially reprimanded by a hospital administrator and formally admonished by the local authorities in Wuhan, he was later exonerated by the Supreme People’s Court of the People’s Republic of China and, after his untimely death, honored by the central government of China as a “martyr” — one of the highest honors given to a private citizen in China.
Samuel Gridley Howe: Abolitionist, Physician, and Pioneer in Education of Children With Vision Loss and Mental Disability“Injustice in society is like a rotten timber in the foundation of a house,” was the motto and guiding principle of Samuel Gridley Howe, MD. Dr Howe was a physician, teacher, and philanthropist who spent much of his life crusading against some of the great inequalities and prejudices of his time.
Suzanne Gros Noël: Plastic Surgery Pioneer and Advocate for Women’s RightsSuzanne Blanche Marguerite Gros was born on January 19, 1878, in Laon, France, the capital of the Aisne Department, located about 140 km north of Paris. Her father, Victor Antoine (b. 1844), was a successful carriage maker, and her mother, Esther Arthémise Marie née Thomas (b. 1851), was a homemaker. Suzanne was an only child, as her 3 siblings all died in infancy. When she was 6 years old, her father died of tuberculosis. Because the family was well-off financially, Suzanne was able to complete secondary school in Laon despite her father’s death, and she had a typical “bourgeoise” upbringing for the era, including instruction in art, music, sewing, and etiquette.
M. Vera Peters: Pioneering Radiation OncologistMildred Vera Peters was born April 28, 1911, in the Thistledown neighborhood of Rexdale, Ontario, now a part of metropolitan Toronto. She attended a one-room school and grew up on a dairy farm, on which she milked cows and drove a tractor as a child. Her father, Charles, died suddenly in 1923, when she was 11 years old, and left her mother Rebecca Mair – a schoolteacher – with 7 children.
Dr John H. Watson: Sherlock Holmes’ Companion and BiographerFew fictional characters are as well recognized around the world as the London-based crime-solving duo of “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes and his loyal confidant Dr John Watson, created in 1887 by British writer Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). Watson and Holmes’ literary association spanned 40 years, from their first appearance in A Study in Scarlet: Being a Reprint from the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D., Late of the Army Medical Department to The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place, published in The Strand Magazine in 1927.
Albin Lambotte: Pioneer of Osteosynthesis (Bone Fixation)Albin Lambotte was born on July 3, 1866, in Brussels, Belgium – the youngest of 7 children. His father, a professor of comparative anatomy, died when Albin was 7 years old. Albin was greatly influenced by his older brother Elie Lambotte (1856-1912), a surgeon practicing in the Brussels suburb of Schaarbeek. Elie Lambotte did early work in fixation of tibial fractures with wires and screws around 1890, and Albin often assisted him, but then Elie became discouraged and did not pursue this approach further.
Emile Letournel: Pioneer of Acetabular SurgeryOn December 4, 1927, Emile Letournel was born in the archipelago of Saint Pierre et Miquelon, France, located south of Nova Scotia. In his youth, his uncle taught him carpentry and he became facile with a saw, a skill that served him well in his later life as an orthopedic surgeon. After finishing secondary school in Saint Pierre, he obtained a scholarship to the French Institute in London (which had been temporarily moved to Scotland due to World War II) and crossed the Atlantic alone on a troop ship in 1944.
James Till and Ernest McCulloch: Hematopoietic Stem Cell DiscoverersStamp Vignettes focus on biographical details and accomplishments related to science and medicine, and not individual views and prejudices except where they had a major impact on the subject's life. The authors of Stamp Vignettes do not intend to imply any endorsement of such views when discussing a Stamp Vignette on Medical Science.
Kaare Nygaard: Surgeon, Scientist, SculptorIn a 1970 design contest, the United Nations (UN) selected a lithograph of a sculpture entitled Hiroshima for a new pair of commemorative stamps, issued to highlight refugee initiatives and garner international support. The UN released these commemoratives (Scott #216-217) in March 1971.
Roald Dahl: Children’s Book Author, Medical Device Inventor, Myelodysplastic Syndrome Patient, and PhilanthropistRoald Dahl’s witty, clever, and subversive children’s stories – including the best-sellers Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Matilda – have excited the imagination of young readers for more than a half century. In 2008, The Times of London ranked Dahl 16th on a list of “The 50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945."
Fernando Figueira: Brazilian Public Health Champion“Consciously or not, a man can only be truly fulfilled when he forgets his individuality, when he ascends and projects himself as an integral part of the immense social body to which he belongs.” - Fernando Figueira
James Allison and Cancer ImmunotherapyIn 2018, James Patrick “Jim” Allison of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University in Japan shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries in basic and applied immunology. Their work has led to novel and effective treatments for cancer.
Razi: Critical Thinker, and Pioneer of Infectious Disease and OphthalmologyAbū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyyāal al-Rāzī – known most commonly as “Razi” or, in Latin, “Rhazes” – was born circa 865 CE in the ancient Persian city of Ray; “Razi” means “from Ray” in Persian. Ray, also known as Rey, Rayy, Rhages, and Arsacia, was situated on the vital Great Silk Road and is now part of the greater Tehran, Iran, metropolitan era. Razi was a noted physician, philosopher, and alchemist – an important pioneer in pediatrics and ophthalmology. He is probably most noted as the first physician to clearly distinguish smallpox from measles, and to describe chickenpox.
Ibn Sina (Avicenna): The “Prince of Physicians”The Persian Muslim polymath Ibn Sīnā, known in the West by the Latinized name “Avicenna”, was born in approximately 980 CE in the village of Afshana, near the town of Bukhara in present-day Uzbekistan, a former capital of the Persian Samanid Empire. Avicenna’s father, Abdullāh, was a government tax collector and carefully supervised his son’s education. The boy was an eager student who memorized the Quran by age 10, learned arithmetic from an Indian grocer, and studied Islamic jurisprudence and philosophy with prominent scholars.
Alexandre Yersin: Discoverer of the Plague BacillusHistorians of public health estimate that throughout human history malaria, tuberculosis, and smallpox have killed more people than the plague. But discussion of plague often evokes a deep visceral fear, since plague has taken the lives of hundreds of millions over the centuries, usually in dramatic and socially disruptive pandemics linked to international trade.
Luke Fildes and The DoctorOne of the most familiar and beloved images of the practice of medicine is The Doctor, an 1891 oil painting by Luke Fildes in the tradition of Victorian-era social realism. First exhibited at the Royal Academy in London and now displayed in the Tate Gallery, this iconic artwork depicts a physician at the bedside of a sick child in a humble cottage, watched over by the child’s worried parents. The painting was commissioned in 1890 by Sir Henry Tate (1819-1898), noted philanthropist and sugar merchant.
Baron Aarnoud van Heemstra, Humanitarian Governor of Suriname and Grandfather of Audrey HepburnBaron Aarnoud Jan Anne Aleid van Heemstra was born in 1871 into an aristocratic family of Frisian origin in the Netherlands. His great uncle, Schelto van Heemstra, had been Prime Minister of the Netherlands in the early 1860s. Aarnoud van Heemstra was born in Vreeland, a village in the province of Utrecht, and was the second son of Wilhelmina Cornelia de Beaufort (a minor noble) and Baron Hendrik Philip van Heemstra, a town mayor.
Albert Schweitzer: Humanitarian With a “Reverence for Life”Albert Schweitzer was born on January 4, 1875, in Kaysersberg in the upper Alsace, which had been a French province since the 17th century but was seized by Prussia in 1871. His father, Louis Schweitzer, was an Evangelical Lutheran pastor in the Alsatian town of Gunsbach. His mother, Adèle Schillinger, was also from Alsace. Although Schweitzer considered himself French — and would formally take French citizenship after World War I — his mother tongue was Alsatian, and he later wrote mostly in the German language.
Andreas Vesalius and De FabricaAndreas Vesalius was one of the most notable and influential anatomists of all time. He was born on December 31, 1514, into a wealthy and well-connected Flemish family in Brussels, which was then under the control of the Austrian House of Habsburg. His grandfather had been the Royal Physician to Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519), while his father was an apothecary and served as valet to Maximilian’s imperial successor, Charles V (1500-1558). Vesalius’ birth name was Andries van Wesel, which was later Latinized, as was customary for scientists and other scholars at that time.
John Shaw Billings: Civil War Surgeon, Medical Librarian, Founder of Index Medicus, and First Director of the New York Public LibraryJohn Shaw Billings was born on April 12, 1838, in Allensville, Switzerland County, Indiana, which was near the frontier of the European-American settlement at the time. His father, James, was from New York and worked as a postmaster and operated a general store. His mother, Abby Shaw, was from Massachusetts and a direct Mayflower descendant, whom Billings remembered for her love of reading. John Shaw Billings took after his mother in this respect and began to read widely as a child, including finishing Plutarch, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, and other religious texts, as well as the works of James Fenimore Cooper by the age of 10.
Georges de Bellio (1826–1894): Doctor, Friend, and Patron of the Impressionist PaintersGeorges de Bellio was born Gheorghe Bellu in Bucharest, Romania, on February 20, 1828, into to an affluent aristocratic family with a history of philanthropy. One of his relatives donated land to the city of Bucharest for a cemetery in which many notable people were buried; other relatives donated buildings to the Romanian Academy cultural forum.