Jenner, Edward biographical name
(born May 17, 1749, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, Eng.died Jan. 26, 1823, Berkeley) English surgeon, discoverer of the smallpox vaccine. He was apprenticed to a surgeon at 13, and at 21 he became the house pupil of John Hunter, who gave him further training and stressed the need for experimentation and observation. Jenner had noticed as a youth that people who had been sick with the relatively harmless disease cowpox did not contract smallpox. In 1796 he inoculated a young boy with matter taken from a dairymaid's fresh cowpox lesions. The boy caught cowpox and, when subsequently inoculated with smallpox, did not contract it. Despite early difficulties, the procedure spread and the death rate from smallpox fell. Jenner received worldwide recognition (though he was also subject to attacks and slander). He retired from public life in 1815 after the death of his wife.
Edward Jenner, detail of an oil painting by James Northcote, 1803; in the National Portrait
—Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London
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