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Eureka!

We asked some of our favourite illustrators to choose a significant breakthrough in the history of science or medicine and do what they do best - illustrate it! In the first of the series illustrator Pierre-Paul Pariseau pays tribute to Dr Ignaz Semmelweis.

 
 

We asked some of our favourite illustrators to choose a significant breakthrough in the history of science or medicine and do what they do best - illustrate it! 

 

Our first illustrator is French-Canadian artist Pierre-Paul Pariseau, who has been named as one of the best illustrators worldwide and whose clients include The Sunday Times Magazine, Penguin Books, Random House, and The Wall Street Journal. He has exhibited internationally and recently published a beautiful book of his work. 

Click on the images to enlarge.

 
 
 
 

Pierre-Paul Pariseau chose to illustrate the "saviour of mothers", Dr Ignaz Semmelweis (1818-1865) , who in 1847 discovered that the use of hand washing in obstetric clinics dramatically lowered the incidence of puerperal fever. 

Pierre-Paul says of his choice; " I came upon his story when I was reading something else and I was astonished that such an obvious thing to do (washing your hands before helping a woman giving birth) was understood so late in the history of medicine. On top of this, the 'discovery' of Dr. Semmelweis was not accepted immediately by the profession and it took  time to have it practiced as a regular routine by doctors. I thought it would be interesting to remember that moment in the history of medicine because it shows that even the obvious is sometimes hard to get into practice. Perhaps there is a lesson there?"

Dr Semmelweis suffered greatly as a result of his discovery, and was ridiculed by his peers to the point where he was rejected by the medical community and forced to move from Vienna to Budapest. This rejection and refusal to take his findings seriously drove Dr Semmelweis to distraction and he wrote angry, open letters to prominent European Obstetricians.  He was thought to be going mad, and was committed to an asylum in 1865. He died 14 days later, possibly beaten to death by guards.

He is now hailed as a pioneer of antiseptic techniques. 


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