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Medical mavericks - the history of self-experimentation. Part 4, Beating infection.

Mosley, Michael.
  • Videos

About this work


The last in the very informative four-part series, presented by Michael Mosley, looking at the history of medical self-experimentation. This part features people in medical history who have attempted to understand microbes and infectious diseases. In the 18th century, John Hunter infected himself with gonorrhea to prove that it was an early stage of syphillis, a conclusion which although ultimately wrong as the two diseases are not connected, his reputation was forged because he completed the first properly controlled medical study of infection. We also hear of Max von Pettenkofer's miasma theory of cholera infection and his resistance to accept that the infection came from microbes alive in contaminated water. Walter Reed went to Havannah to find the bacteria responsible for causing yellow fever while Jesse Lazear believed it was spread by mosquito - to settle the debate Lazear offered his arm to mosquitoes who had drunk the blood of yellow fever victims. He developed the worst case of yellow fever ever seen and died aged only 34. We also hear about Claude Barlow's uncomfortable self-experiments to understand shistosome parasites in rural China and the devastating effect of his research on his own health. Finally Barry Marshall and Robin Warren describe how they found the virus which can be a major contributor to stomach ulcers and gastritis.


UK : BBC4, 2007.

Physical description

1 videocassette (VHS) (60 min.) : sound, color, PAL

Copyright note

BBC Television


Broadcast on 28 February, 2007



  • English

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