Edward Jenner

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Bronze statue of Jenner, by Yonehara Unkai, outside the Tokyo National Museum
  • Born: 17 May 1749, Berkeley, Gloucestershire
  • Died: 26 Jan 1823, Berkeley, Gloucestershire

Edward Jenner was a physician and scientist from England, known for his breakthroughs in immunology, and in particular for his development of the world's first modern vaccine - a vaccine for smallpox.

Born the third son of a vicar in Gloucestershire, he began studying medicine around the age of 15, and in 1770 left for London, where he studied under the famous physician J. Hunter. Three years later, he opened a practice back home in Gloucestershire.

Around that time, he discovered that women who had been exposed to cows infected with cowpox, did not themselves seem to be contracted smallpox. Jenner took note of this for quite a few years, and eventually, on 1796/5/14, decided to test out an experimental procedure. He exposed an 8-year-old boy, James Phipps, to pus from a milkmaid infected with cowpox; Phipps fell ill, but recovered. Afterwards, Jenner exposed the boy to scabs taken from a smallpox patient, and found Phipps unaffected; he did not develop smallpox.

Though Jenner never traveled to Japan, his vaccine discovery did, and had a profound impact, helping curb smallpox outbreaks in the archipelago.


  • "Jenner," Britannica kokusai daihyakka jiten, Britannica Japan, 2014.