An area we don’t often consider when dealing with our personal medical conditions is health research. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Research, whether knowledge is gained through clinical trials, equipment testing, surveys, questionnaires, or data analysis, the answers researchers find improves healthcare processes for positive change.
Because of health research, diagnosis time and accuracy has been enriched and medical providers better understand how to prevent conditions from developing. Research has found vaccines for viral strains including COVID-19. It is responsible for life-saving treatments and procedures, which eases suffering and improves care.
In fact, some of the most important medical discoveries over the past 80 years — including aspirin, penicillin, and antibiotics — would never have come about if it weren’t for the hard work of scientists and researchers.
Medical advancement has life-altering results. There is no doubt that surgery saves lives. Complicated surgeries clearly take longer to perform. However, before anesthesia, surgeons had to carefully monitor how long they could operate. The very first surgery in the U.S. using anesthesia was performed in Boston in 1846 to remove a tumor from a patient’s neck.
London physician John Snow, widely known as the father of epidemiology, researched the frequency and risk factors of health-related states in specified populations. Initially Snow set out to prove cholera wasn’t a result of bad air as most surmised. In fact, he was able to prove that most of the cases were tied to one water pump. Epidemiology became an essential area of research for many diseases.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that people were convinced disease was caused by germs. Dr. Joseph Lister, professor of surgery at Glasgow University, applied germ theory to surgery in 1865. Lister introduced an antiseptic principle to surgery revolutionizing the field by showing a way to prevent infection in wounds during, and after an operation.
Today, diabetes is a relatively well managed disease, however, it wasn’t until 1922 when scientists at the University of Toronto identified insulin as a treatment option. Before this, children with Type 1 diabetes were only expected to live 1.5 years from diagnosis. For adults, only one in five would be alive 10 years after diagnosis.
In the 1990s, scientists used gene therapy to treat a 4 year old girl with a rare genetic disease. Gene therapy is now used in certain cases of blindness and shows promise for many other diseases as well.
Something having an incredible impact on the medical field today is 3D printing. Developed in the 1980s by Charles Hull, 3D printing is already being used for dental implants and prosthetics. Researchers are currently looking at other applications including ways to print whole organs for testing which could possibly eliminate the need for animal testing in the future.
These are just a few of the incredible improvements in medical care that would never have been made without research. These fascinating discoveries are marking turning points in medical research that provides hope today, and for the future.