Emeritus Professor and Senior Scholar Anwar Suleman Mall, Department of Surgery, UCT

Great advances have been made in modern medicine, but the foundation of this progress stretches back for centuries, even to the golden age of Arabic science.  A consensus on the highlights of medical achievements would be a formidable task but could possibly include the eradication of major epidemics, drug discovery, the gene as the unit of heredity, sophisticated surgical procedures and the many technological applications that help in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Also, it is essential to acknowledge the research behind a cure or successful technique.

The first lecture is an overview of the topics chosen, followed by the history of genetics, epigenetics, (‘the bridge between nature and nurture’), the discovery of anaesthetics, and finally the first choice of Friedman and Friedland, William Harvey’s discovery and description of the circulatory system.



1. Introductory lecture: a discussion around the choices made by Friedman and Friedland

2. The history of genetics: from Mendel and Darwin to Watson and Crick

3. Epigenetics: the new revolution in the twenty-first century

4. The discovery of anaesthesia

5. William Harvey’s blood circulation: the best discovery?


Recommended reading

Carey, N. 2011. The epigenetics revolution: how modern biology is rewriting our understanding of genetics disease and inheritance. Icon Books.

Friedman, M. and Friedland, G. 2000. Medicine’s 10 greatest discoveries. New Haven, U.S.A.: Yale University Press.

Judson, H.F. 1980. The eighth day of creation. Makers of the revolution in biology. United States: Touchstone Books.

Watson, J.D. 1970. The Double Helix. A personal account of the discovery of the structure of DNA. New Zealand: Penguin Books.



Date: 21 – 25 January 
Time: 6.45 pm
COURSE FEES Full: R550,00  Staff and Students R275,00
Venue: LT1 Kramer Law Building UCT