Edward Jenner


May 25, 2022

Edward Jenner (Berkeley, May 17, 1749 - Berkeley, January 26, 1823) was a British physician and naturalist, known for introducing the smallpox vaccine and considered the father of immunization. In addition to his medical studies, Jenner devoted himself to the study of hot air balloons, emetic tartar and cuckoo; for the latter he was also appointed a member of the Royal Society in 1789.

The early years and education

Edward Jenner was born in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, on May 17, 1749, the youngest of six children of Stephen Jenner, Vicar of the city, and the daughter of the previous Vicar (the Reverend Henry Head). first and then of his father, Edward was educated according to a classical education, thanks to which Latin became part of his everyday language. The early disappearance, in a short time, of both parents left an indelible mark on the child. The Christian education given to him by his father, the figures of his sister Mary, who became almost a second mother for him, and the almost paternal one of his older brother Stephen made his growth less difficult. In 1756, at the age of seven, Edward was sent to study at the Cirencester grammar school. In 1761, at the age of twelve, he finished his grammar studies. It was time to choose a job and the young man chose the path of medicine. He applied to Oxford, but was turned down due to his health after the smallpox epidemic that had hit him a few years earlier, but which he had managed to overcome. He was then entrusted to Mr. Ludlow, a surgeon from Chipping Sodbury with whom he stayed for seven years, during which time Jenner learned all there was to know about the country medical profession.

The London years (1770-1773)

At the age of twenty-one, along with his older brother Stephen, Edward decided it was time to go to London to learn hospital practice; to do this he decided to rely on John Hunter, former army surgeon and younger brother of Dr. William Hunter, owner of the best anatomy school in the world. For a hundred pounds a year Jenner became John Hunter's first pupil, with the exclusive opportunity to have contact with the latter's older brother, William. The day on Jermyn Street started very early and followed a set routine. Hunter's methods were innovative and fascinating: if an experiment failed, he persevered and, as he himself advised Jenner, if a treatment failed it meant that he was wrong, even if imposed by the authorities. Time was divided equally between patients and searches. Every day Jenner and Hunter paced back and forth between Jermyn Street and St. James Street, splitting between St. George's Hospital and Westminster Hospital. From two in the afternoon and for about five hours, Jenner followed demonstrations in the anatomy room. After the lessons, he took care of the assignments received from Hunter, such as dissections, preparation of medicines, etc. Finally, after dinner, the two often lingered until late at night in the laboratory. London life offered a lot, even too much, to young Jenner: bothered by the noise, the fumes and the dirt, he didn't find the charm of such a big city to his taste. In July 1771, on the occasion of John Hunter's wedding, Jenner rejected Dr. Solander to be part of an expedition as a botanist, demonstrating how much nothing outside of an apprenticeship with Hunter could stimulate him.

The degree and certificates

On May 15, 1772, a document signed by William Hunter attested to the end of his apprenticeship, as well as the brilliant passing of four courses in anatomy and surgery. In the following months Jenner devoted himself to the practice of physics, materia medica, chemistry and obstetrics. On 1 December of the same year, with l