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What's the Greatest Medical Advance?

Medical Journal BMJ Invites You to Choose
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

In the world of medicine, "breakthrough" is not a word taken lightly. But the prestigious British medical journal BMJ soon plans to name what it considers the greatest medical breakthrough since 1840 -- the year the journal was launched.

Last year, BMJ invited readers to submit nominations for the honor. Now in contention are 15 medical advances, ranging from anesthesia to vaccines, that over the decades have saved millions of lives and immeasurable human suffering.

These breakthroughs were culled from more than 100 nominations from BMJ readers -- mostly physicians and scientists -- based on the ability of each medical development to transform lives around the world.

Among the suggested breakthroughs that didn't make the cut? Condoms, Viagra, soap, exercise, and the mobile phone.

For the 15 advances that made the short list, BMJ has chosen 15 leading doctors and scientists to champion each milestone in contention for top honor. These are respected medical experts, including the creator of the modern birth controlbirth control pill, a descendent of the scientist who helped developed anesthesia, and the author of a book on the history of penicillin.

Beginning Friday, Jan. 5, subscribers and the general public can log onto the web site, read arguments for all 15 advances, and vote for their personal favorite. The deadline for voting is Sunday, Jan. 14, and the winning breakthrough will be announced Jan. 18 on the site.

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