An Immigrant's Contribution to Medicine


In this time of increasing intolerance of immigrants and minority cultures, it's important to share their contributions to medical science. One such scientist is a British Asian Muslim physician who discovered the effects of blood pressure on health. Frederick Akbar Mahomed was born in eighteen-forty nine into a Bengali family. His grandfather, Sake Dean Mahomed was an entrepreneur and opened the first curry house in London two hundred years ago.

Dr. Mahomed's first achievement at age twenty three was to improve the sphygmogram which is a tracing that illustrates elements of the heartbeat or pulse and blood pressure. His sphygmogram was the first to be quantitative and won him the 'Pupil's Physical Society Prize. A quote from his paper shows his insight, 'The pulse, ranks the first among our guides; no surgeon can despise its counsel, no physician shut his ears to its appeal. The information the pulse affords is of so great importance and so often consulted, surely it must be to our advantage to appreciate fully all it tells us.

His studies revealed that high blood pressure is a primary event that leads to kidney damage and could be inherited and exist in people who appeared healthy. He also developed the Collective Investigation Record, the precursor to our modern day collaborative clinical trials.

Dr. Mahomed also began using transfusions to treat intestinal hemorrhages from typhoid fever. Unfortunately, he died at just thirty five from a typhoid infection. But his career is a shining example of what an enthusiastic immigrant physician-scientist can achieve in the face of a challenge.

More Information

The forgotten British-Asian physician who changed modern medicine
Before Frederick Akbar Mahomed, the world did not know that human life could be prolonged by reducing blood pressure. The 19th century doctor from Brighton, England, did pioneering research into nephritis and hypertension, and helped introduce the British Medical Association's collective investigation record, and yet he remains unsung today...

Sake Dean Mahomed: The man who opened Britain's first curry house, nearly 200 yars ago
Martin Hickman looks at the extraordinary man who spiced up the life of an entire nation...