History of Medicine

Subject: History of Medicine 


Credit: 2

Prerequisite: -

Year, semester: 1st - 5th academic years, 1st and 2nd semesters

Number of lessons:

  • lecture: 26 hours
  • seminar: -
  • practice: -

Lecturer and coordinator: Prof. Norbert Németh, MD, PhD, DSc,  nemeth@med.unideb.hu

Aim of the course

History of medicine is more than just history of a branch of science. Development of medicine in various cultures and ages had been accompanied and/or led to a number of changes in attitudes and relationships of human and nature, religions and society, with numerous turning points, paradigm shifts, major discoveries and technological development. The aim of the course is to briefly present the history of the medicine, the development of medical thinking, decision-making, attitude and healing practice. Deepening in science history can also contribute to the appreciation of the value of the medical approach used in the everyday preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic practice of different medical disciplines. The lessons from paradigm changes may also enforce the open-mindedness, which is certainly still needed for a long time.


1. Introduction. Sources and methods of history of medicine. Paleomedicine, prehistoric medicine.

2. Medicine of the ancient river valley civilizations: China, India, Mesopotamia.

3. Medicine in the ancient Egypt.

4. Ancient Greek medicine. Asclepions. Hippocrates. Concept and doctrines. Corpus Hippocraticum. The Oath.

5. Medicine in the Roman Empire. Aesculapius. Encyclopedians: Terentius Varro, Plinius, Celsus. Soranos, Dioscorides. Galenus. Hygiene and public health. Valetudinaria.

6. Medieval medicine. Monastery medicine. Byzantine healers. The great compilators. Arabian medicine, Rhases, Avicenna, Abulcasis.

7. Pandemics in history.

8. Scholastic medicine. The Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci, Vesalius, Paracelsus.

9. Significant discoveries of the 17th - 20th centuries. Selections from the history of various medical disciplines I.

10. Significant discoveries of the 17th - 20th centuries. Selections from the history of various medical disciplines II.

11. Overviewing the history of medicine of the Middle East (since medieval ages), the American continent, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia (since 1500), the Far East and Australia.

12. Brief overview of the history of dentistry, pharmacy and public health.

13. History of the Hungarian Medical Education. History of the University of Debrecen and the Faculty of Medicine. Consultation.

Reading materials:

Lecture slides in pdf and supplementary materials (e-Learning folder of the course).

Recommended materials:

Porter R.: The Cambridge Illustrated History of Medicine. Cambridge University Press, 1996.
Magner L.N., Kim O.J.: A History of Medicine. 3rd Edition. CRC Press, 2017.
Jackson M.: A Global History of Medicine. Oxford University Press, 2018.

Exam: AW5 (written final test)

Last update: 2023. 09. 26. 09:21