Benjamin Franklin's place in the history of medicine

J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2007 Dec;37(4):373-8.


Benjamin Franklin's seemingly endless curiosity and his prolific contributions in diplomacy, politics, literature, and science may well justify calling him the most eminent man in eighteenth-century American life. One portion of these contributions still striking for the insights and productivity it shows was in medicine. He saw the value in inoculation against smallpox. He was aware of the placebo effect. He, in effect, launched the first American medical school. He devised a flexible urethral catheter. He identified lead poisoning as a cause of abdominal pain and peripheral neuropathy. He accurately described psoriasis well before RobertWillan. These contributions in medicine of his time were not then notably influential, but they certainly illustrate the versatility of his intellect.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Famous Persons*
  • History of Medicine*
  • History, 18th Century
  • United States

Personal name as subject

  • Benjamin Franklin