10 Diseases Named After People

Hashimoto's Disease
Hakaru Hashimoto was the doctor who discovered lymphocytic thyroiditis or Hashimoto's disease. He only spent nine years in academia before returning to his family's practice. Wellcome Library/Creative Commons 4.0 International

Although this disease is known around the world, the doctor who named it spent most of his life in a family practice rather than at a research university. Hakaru Hashimoto was born in 1881 into a Japanese family that had been involved in the medical field for generations. In the early 20th century, he became fascinated with the thyroid gland. At just 31 years of age, he published a paper on a new thyroid condition he discovered in women with goiters that he named struma lymphomatosa. Although he had a promising academic career before him, Hashimoto returned home at 35 and took over the family medical practice to help out his relatives [source: Healio].

The thyroid condition Hashimoto discovered is a slowly progressing autoimmune disease in which leukocytes —and mainly T-lymphocytes, the white blood cells in your body that hone in on cellular abnormalities and infection — attack the thyroid. It is the main cause of hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid. Symptoms include fatigue, a goiter, dry skin, a hoarse voice and unexplained weight gain [sources: Healio, Mayo Clinic].

Unfortunately for Hashimoto, he received almost no recognition for discovering this disease before his untimely death in 1934, due to typhoid fever contracted during a house call. Shortly afterward, the medical condition became known as Hashimoto's disease in much of the world, although Japan wouldn't learn of the moniker until the 1950s. His picture is now the logo of the Japan Thyroid Association [source: Healio].

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