20 Self-Experimenting Medical Researchers in History
20 Self-Experimenting Medical Researchers in History

20 Self-Experimenting Medical Researchers in History

Theodoros - March 21, 2019

20 Self-Experimenting Medical Researchers in History
Edwin Katskee’s Wall Notes. via Mad Science Museum. ThoughtCo.

1. The doctor who kept notes while dying from a cocaine overdose.

In what may be the greatest demonstration of altruism in medical history, Edwin Katskee literally gave his life to test the effects of cocaine to its addicts. The main difference of Dr. Katskee with any other scientist included in this list is that he knew his death was inevitable when he was injecting a deadly dose of cocaine into his veins. He didn’t seek help, but instead he tried to calmly record his observations as the drug took effect. He described what he had done as a “scientific experiment with death.” It’s important to note, however, that by the year of his death (1936), Dr. Katskee’s life began to fall apart.

In August of that year, his wife filed for divorce citing “extreme cruelty” and asked for custody of their two young children. Not long afterward, Dr. Katskee experienced a series of health crises, including gall bladder surgery and spending time in a sanitarium. Two months later, his uncle committed suicide following a nervous breakdown. Suicide or not, the fact remains that Dr. Katskee sacrificed his life in order to find out what the addicts experience themselves during an overdose. Unfortunately, his notes as scattered as they were and without proper timekeeping, did not prove useful for his colleagues.


Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Doctor Katskee’s Final Experiment – Providentia.

The Man Behind High-Speed Safety Standards – Air and Space.

Constantin Levaditi: An unknown pioneer in immunology research. Mednet.

Carrion’s disease (Bartonellosis bacilliformis) confirmed by histopathology in the High Forest of Peru. Scielo.

“Nicholas Senn and the origins of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States”. Military medicine.

Harrington WJ, Minnich V, Hollingsworth JW, Moore CV (July 1951). “Demonstration of a thrombocytopenic factor in the blood of patients with thrombocytopenic purpura”. J. Lab. Clin. Med. 38.

1804: Med student tests theory by drinking black vomit – Alpha History.

“Max von Kettenkoffer (1818-1901) as a Pioneer of Modern Hygiene and Preventive Medicine”. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine.

“Paris choosing a dermatological hero for the millennium” by Daniel Wallach.

The isolation of morphine by Serturner – NCBI – NIH

Barry James Marshall—Discovery of Helicobacter pylori as a Cause of Peptic Ulcer. Mayo Clinic.

“Roger Altounyan: the man and his work.” Respir Med.

Lidocaine: The Origin of a Modern Local Anesthetic | Anesthesiology.org

The Olivier Ameisen Story – Baclofen Treatment for Alcoholism

William B. Castle – It’s in the Blood! A Documentary History of Linus Pauling, Hemoglobin, and Sickle Cell Anemia, Oregon State University

“ABO blood group system”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica.

“The discovery of radium in 1898 by Maria Sklodowska-Curie and Pierre Curie with commentary on their life and times.” The British Journal of Radiology.