To celebrate the success of Dr Jenner’s House in raising some £40,000 to support itself for another year, Medicine 360 interviews Gareth Williams, author of Angel of Death: The Story of Smallpox, and Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Senior Research Fellow in English at the University of Bristol. We find out a bit about who Edward Jenner was, and what he did to set in motion the scientific understanding of vaccines and the process of vaccination.
Vaccines and vaccinations are, of course, subjects very much in the public consciousness at the moment. Jenner vaccinated against smallpox, a viral disease which, before it was eradicated in the late 1970s, was one of the great killers in human history. (Wikipedia suggests 300 million in the C20th.) Jenner’s fame in his own day was enormous, earning him, for a time, a statue in Trafalgar Square, and a medal from Napoleon.
Yet the most surprising part of this story, perhaps, is that such a great contributor to public health should now pass so practically unremarked that his museum needs constantly to raise money to survive – to maintain a building that has very good claims to be listed as a World Heritage site. A grateful nation or a rich benefactor is needed.
For more information on how to keep Dr Jenner’s House alive: