Definition of Sydenham, Thomas

Sydenham, Thomas: (1624-1689) Great English physician who has been called the "English Hippocrates" and the "father of English medicine." Sydenham left Oxford to fight in the English Civil Wars during which he met Thomas Coxe, a physician serving in the army, who inspired him to enter medicine. At the age of 38 he was licensed by the College of Physicians of London to practice medicine full-time and at 52 years of age he belatedly received his M.D. degree from Cambridge.

Sydenham first described what became known as Sydenham chorea, an acute neurologic disorder that follows a streptococcal (strep) infection. Sydenham was also one of the principal founders of epidemiology. He provided firsthand accounts of gout, malaria, measles, dysentery, and many other diseases. He introduced Cinchona bark into England for the treatment of malaria.


Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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