Celebrating the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Last Century


We’re approaching more than just a new year - we are entering a very new decade! The roaring 20’s are back with a vengeance and this time they have a hundred years’ worth of advancements in modern medicine. Some of these changes have done incredible things, like drastically increasing the lifespan of millions of people worldwide. Some have even changed how well we can treat patients on their route to recovery.

We thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the greatest scientific discoveries that have happened over the last century and which direction we think science is going in the next decade. In truth, it is nearly impossible to prioritize the best advancement for each decade, but we took our best shot. Take a look at what we picked:

1920-1929: The First Antibiotic

What really changed kicked off a century of innovation and discovery in modern medicine? There’s no better way to start this list than with the discovery of the very first antibiotic – Penicillin.

In 1928, scientist Alexander Fleming had spent his career looking for new antiseptic compounds to treat infection. He struggled to find the answer until after spending a vacation away from the lab, he returned to find mold growing on some of his bacterial colonies. Where the mold had grown, he reported seeing no bacterial colonies thus proving his discovery of the first official antibiotic.

1 930-1939: The Importance of Electrolytes

In 1933, Dr. James Gamble began studying pediatric patients suffering from extreme loss of food and water. In his studies, he discovered the importance of electrolytes in managing fluid dynamics within a body, exposing the significance of salt and potassium in fluid retention. His methods of treatment led to better hydration methods and eventually the development of saline solution for clinical rehydration therapies in children.

1940-1949 Women’s Health

George Nicholas Papanicolaou became an incredible pioneer for women’s health when he developed the Pap Smear in 1945 . This test was perfected as the first clinical exam as an early detection method for cervical cancer. It was easy to perform and highly cost-effective and resulted in a significant decline in cervical cancer incidences. Even today, the pap smear is used as a routine test to examine and maintain women’s reproductive health.

1950-1959 A Breakthrough in Vaccine Therapy

The 1950’s showed a number of advancements in medicine; however, it was American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk who successfully tested and distributed the first vaccine against the crippling disease known as polio in 1953. The creation of the polio-vaccine technique also led to the development of vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox.

1960-1969 Blood Storage

These days, in the case of a surgery or a traumatic injury, blood transfusion therapy is a necessary component to treatment and recovery. However, it wasn’t until 1964 that scientists perfected means of safe blood storage and created the first blood bank known as the Community Blood Center in New York.

It was through these efforts that the nation was able to optimize methods for blood donation outreach and safe long-term storage efforts.

1970-1979 Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

The 1970s were a decade full of incredible medical technology advancements. During this time, positron emission tomography or PET scans were created, the insulin receptor discovered, the first virus form was identified, and photochemotherapy was used to treat disorders like psoriasis.

But also, during this time, the creation of one of the key instruments found in hospitals all across the world was created: the MRI machine. It took work from many researchers that studied and explored how magnetic resonance to depict spatial images of dense tissue, leading to a non-invasive technique to view organs such as the brain. The invention of the MRI is often credited to the chemist Dr. Paul Lauterbur, eventually earning him a Nobel Peace Prize in Physiology with English physicist Sir Peter Mansfield for their contribution.

1980-1989 Smallpox Eradication

In 1980, something no one ever imagined happened – the World Health Organization announced that the disease known as Smallpox had been completely eradicated worldwide.

This was known as the first illness effort to be fought on a global scale. It took collaboration between countries across the world and strenuous vaccination campaigns.

1990-1999 HIV Therapy

During the 1980’s and early 1990’s, being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS was essentially a death sentence. This sexually transmitted autoimmune disease resulted in an estimated 400,000 deaths worldwide between 1980 and 1990. However, in 1995 the FDA approved the first protease inhibitor that led to a new era of antiretroviral treatment, making the mortality rate of HIV drop by more than 80%.

2000-2009 The Human Genome Project

The Human Genome Project began in 1990, but it wasn’t completed until April of 2003. This global effort was led by an international team that sought to map out – not the cosmos – but the complete genetic blueprint of human DNA. This feat helped to provide countless benefits to molecular medicine and in understanding human evolution and genetic diseases.

2010-2019 The Gut Microbiome’s Role in Chronic Disease

Between 2013 - 2017, nearly 13,000 studies were published focusing on the gut microbiome. Although saying, “The role of microbes in our gut have a key role in our human metabolism and may prove to have therapeutic value” seems like common sense, it wasn’t that long ago that scientists believed otherwise. In truth, this field of research is only about 15 years old. We’re only touching the tip of the iceberg of how intricately related the microbes in our gut are to our survival. Already, their impact has been tied to various cancers, autoimmune disease, chronic conditions, gastrointestinal disorders, and numerous other issues related to health. Indeed, we at Viome are already well aware of the implications of these studies. This is why we feel so strongly about our role in changing our current healthcare system. It seems modern medicine is more focused on disease care than actually preventing disease. We believe the future of healthcare is closely connected to new innovative research expanding on our understanding and clinical care of the gut microbiome.

2020-2029 Gut Microbiome Manipulation

We have officially made it to 2020 and it is clear where current research efforts are leading. We are working to uncover the underlying causes of disease and we’re making incredible strides to a future where we will be able to treat and prevent chronic disease.

Our team has embarked on various journeys to create personalized supplements for our customers that we will be announcing in 2020. We will be expanding our product line and releasing a new test that gives you a much larger picture of how the health of your gut microbiome (your microbial gene expression) is affecting the health of the “human” part of you (your human gene expression). We’re developing this test in an effort to help you better understand the blood transcriptome - or the RNA expression associated with your red blood cells. By essentially focusing on the gene expression – or the transcription of RNA – we get an in-depth look at what is currently happening within a specific cell. This can essentially tells us many things, like if a cell is healthy, if it is undergoing stress, if it is experiencing difficulty doing it’s typical job, if it’s dying, if it’s replicating or growing, and what specific functions it’s more focused on – like maintaining homeostasis or adapting to certain physiological conditions. This means more insight, more scores, and more personalized recommendations.

We will be continuing our work to identify patterns that better help diagnose and treat chronic disease. We have many clinical studies going on and are working in partnership with leading organizations like the Mayo Clinic, GSK, and others which will allow us to make a greater impact in less time. In just the next year alone, Viome plans to make big strides in human health. Expect great things and look out for more announcements as time goes on.

As you enter the new year, remember to “let your food be thy medicine” and start changing the way you view your relationship with your body and the food you eat. There is no better time than now to make an impact on your health and make leading a healthier life full of even more wonderful moments. New year...the BEST version of you.

*The information on the Viome website is provided for informational purposes only and with the understanding that Viome is not engaged in rendering medical advice or recommendations. Viome is providing this educational information to share the exciting developments being reported in the scientific literature about the human microbiome and your health. Viome products are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.