10 Diseases Named After People

Paget's Disease
Vice chancellor of London University, Sir James Paget, confers degrees to students. Paget, a well-known surgeon and pathologist, gave his name to several diseases. Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

Sir James Paget is a bit of an anomaly in the world of disease-based eponyms, as he has several bearing his name. Born in England in 1814, Paget was a surgeon and pathologist who never went to university. Instead, he trained at a hospital, as was common at the time. Considered the father of British pathology, he's famed for his accurate descriptions of numerous diseases, including osteitis deformans, a condition characterized by bone tumors (Paget's disease of the bone); a rare breast cancer that manifests itself in and around the nipple (Paget's disease of the nipple); a rare cancer characterized by lesions on extramammary sites such as the penis and vulva (Paget's disease of the penis, aka extramammary Paget's disease); and median nerve compression (carpal tunnel syndrome) [sources: Buchanan, Breast Cancer]. These diseases are not related — Paget just happens to have discovered them all.

While these are certainly impressive accomplishments, it's perhaps just as significant that Paget was a supporter of incorporating science into medicine, favored women becoming physicians and was open-minded about investigating new medical treatments. He's also recognized as the first surgeon to try alleviating bed sores through the use of water beds. James Paget University Hospitals in Norfolk, England, is named after him [source: James Paget University Hospitals].