Wednesday, December 1, 2021
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Edward Jenner: The father of immunology

Edward Jenner, creator of the world’s first vaccine, is said to have saved more lives through his work than anyone else. In the 18th century smallpox was widespread, killing eight out of ten children who caught the disease.

In 1796, testing the countryside folklore that milkmaids never caught smallpox, Jenner injected pus from the blisters on a milkmaid’s hand into the arm of eight-year-old James Phipps. This proved that contracting the relatively harmless cowpox provided immunity against the killer disease.

Jenner quickly saw that vaccination could annihilate smallpox, which he called “the most dreadful scourge of the human species”.

It was another 44 years before the UK Government provided free vaccination,  and a further century passed before Jenner’s solution was taken up worldwide.

This is one of a series of stories about the impact of new thinkers, installed on the walls of the Islington head office of Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network.

Kasper de Graaf
Kasper de Graaf
Kasper is a writer and producer with wide experience of innovation in cities, industry and institutions. He has delivered innovation schemes in Vancouver, Istanbul, London, Manchester, Glasgow and numerous other cities. Kasper led the South Bank IQ research study about innovation in South London and co-authored the study ‘Creating a Manchester Design Manifesto’ with Lou Cordwell. He is a director of the design group Images&Co and the arts and culture organisation 2NQ, a steering board Member of the UK Design Action Plan (designactionplan.org) and vice-chair of the Finsbury Park Trust. He has produced Design Manchester’s annual public debate about design and society since 2014 and chaired it since 2018. [Photo: Jake Bernard]

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