ScienceHeroes.com is an outgrowth of the book Scientists Greater Than Einstein: The Biggest Lifesavers of the Twentieth Century. The book began with one of its authors, Billy Woodward, asking a simple question: Who saved the most lives in history? Our website answers that question.
In doing so, we also celebrate science itself. No other human invention in the last 400 years, has improved our lives as much as science. We believe by celebrating lifesaving accomplishments, we will encourage others to be aware of science and possibly encourage a student to become a future lifesaving scientist.
The thirteenth century German theologian, Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice. We concur and this website is to show appreciation and gratitude for the scientists who have saved so many lives!
The site was built by a small science team in 2010. It was completely revamped and updated in 2021. The site has no funding, so is not currently researching or adding new content.
The ScienceHeroes.com Team
Billy Woodward, a University of KY graduate, is the founder.
Jerry Baker, a University of KY graduate, is a computer programmer whose mind and hand were in everything that went onto the site.
Martha Pat Kinney, a University of KY graduate, is a Clinical Laboratory Scientist who helped research and organize the lifesavers, and wrote some of the bios.
April Ingram, a University of Calgary graduate, is a certified clinical research professional who helped research some of the numbers and wrote many of the bios.
Tim Anderson, a Kansas State University graduate, is a medical writer who helped write many of the bios.
ScienceHeroes.com Was Created to Recognize and Thank Two Scientists Who Saved The Founder's Life – Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings
In my 20s I awoke one morning with what I thought was a sprained ankle. Not the result of sleep walking, it was gout - little crystals shaped like needles had lodged in my joints. For two decades it occurred intermittently, two weeks of agonizing pain, then all was well for a year or so. But one year it refused to go away – for two years I was in constant pain! I couldn’t pet a dog, or even lean against a wall. I thought pain would dominate the rest of my life. Finally, I was prescribed the drug allopurinol. Weeks later, my pain lessened. Then one day I walked outside and felt the breeze.
It was the most wonderful feeling in the world. It was my first recognition that my pain was gone! For a month I walked as if on clouds. Allopurinol was my miracle drug. Life felt wonderful again. Then one day a thought stopped me cold. Allopurinol did not originate in a pharmacy. Someone created it. Who should I thank for my pain free life?
Searching, I found that the Nobel Laureates, Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings created the drug in the 1960s. Further research indicated that gout killed 10,000 people a year until allopurinol was widely available. Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings saved my life. My gratitude was twofold; they saved my life literally and they allowed me to again have a life of quality, pain free.
My gratitude led me to ask another question. Who saved the most lives in history? To my surprise, no one had tabulated this. So, I spent four years of research, culminating in the book – Scientists Greater Than Einstein: The Biggest Lifesavers of the Twentieth Century. Since the book only included ten biographies, I founded the ScienceHeroes.com website to run the list up to 100, including my own science heroes – Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings.
Few people think much of our debt owed to lifesaving scientists. Their discoveries have altered the trajectories of all of our lives, for virtually none of us or our loved ones go through life unscathed by illness and the threat of death. Most of us will have our life extended due to scientists’ noble efforts.
Myself, currently I owe specific thanks to:
- Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings for creating the drug allopurinol, curing my gout.
- Akira Endo for creating the statin drugs, lowering my cholesterol and letting me live longer than my relatives who died from heart attacks.
- The creators of all the vaccines that have removed 22 diseases from threatening me.
- I likely will owe thanks to many more before I die.
Billy Woodward, Founder and Author
Scientists Greater Than Einstein: The Biggest Lifesavers of the Twentieth Century