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Celebrating Medical Laboratory Professionals Week with a History of Lab Equipment and their Innovators

med lab professionals

Introduction to Medical Laboratory Professionals Week

Every year, the last week of April brings the celebration of Medical Laboratory Professionals Week. This observance honors lab professionals, their impact on society, and the contributions they’ve made to the world of health.

To properly appreciate their impact, let’s revisit past decades and remember our laboratory forefathers and the inventions that have brought us to where we are today. We’ll also explore the discoveries that new minds have contributed in recent years. These people and their innovations have paved the way for our medical future.

But for now, let’s step back into the past.


A Historic Timeline of Lab Equipment and its Makers

From the inception of ancient medical practices to present day, we’ve slowly transitioned from using primitive manual tools to advanced digital innovations.

But where did it all begin?

AD 1200s 

Medieval laboratory history takes us all the way back to AD 1267 when the English scholar Roger Bacon experimented with optics and presumably produced the first microscope—the most iconic laboratory device in history.


Over 300 years later, Galileo Galilei constructed the first thermometer—another revolutionary lab device—which Gabriel Fahrenheit perfected in 1714 along with the Fahrenheit temperature scale.

After these, a slew of laboratory and clinical inventions followed, becoming predecessors to the modern equipment we know today.


By the 1800s, the field of medicine was formally taking shape. In 1847 the American Medical Association was founded. And as the century progressed, it continued to unearth groundbreaking discoveries for modern equipment and medicine.

The 1800s produced the first hygienic and clinical laboratories, advances in immunizations, the invention of the x-ray, and the use of anesthesia for surgeries.


In the early 1900s, the electrocardiograph machine and medical respirators were born—although mammoth and primitive compared to the devices we use today. By the 1950s, the ultrasound and cardiac pacemakers were added to the list of clinical tools. In the 1970s the CAT scan emerged, taking 3D imaging to a new level.

A decade later, in the 1980s, the first computers were introduced into science classrooms and laboratory facilities. Although it’s mind-blowing in our present-day world, often a whole classroom—or even a whole school!—would share one of these prehistoric computers.

The last decade of the millennia, the 1990s, brought the brilliant initiation of the 13-year Human Genome Project. This study unearthed a world of data about the human body.


A New Millennia of Laboratory Progress

Early 2000s

The 2000s emerged taking progress in stride with ever-evolving ideas, equipment and new innovations. In 2004, the first “Adaptive Artificial Knee” was introduced with the ability to cater to the user’s activities by imbedded microprocessor control.


The 2010s initiated the 3D printing of body parts, not just synthetically but “bioprinting” using growing cells to print skin for wound repair. Hard to believe when you read it in print–but today this practice is a reality.

2020s to Present Day

In recent days, TIME Magazine crowned the medical invention “Augmedics xvision” as a Best Invention of 2020. This next-gen device “allows surgeons to visualize the patients’ 3D and 2D spinal anatomy during surgery” while still focusing on the patient and not referencing external screens. This invention made X-ray vision a reality. It’s no longer a sci-fi dream.


What will the Future Bring to Laboratory Equipment?

And now, what will the future bring? What equipment and advancements await the clinical world as the 2020s progress? An article from TIME Magazine predicts futuristic innovations such as artificial intelligence for cancer diagnostics, phone-controlled ultrasounds and drone-delivered medical supplies.

Is this our future? Only time will tell. But one thing is certain—medical technology will continue to evolve. New innovations will enable medical professionals to focus ever-increasingly on their life work without the hindrances of old technology.

A Science Fiction World

As Forbes puts it, “We’re living in a science fiction universe. With science fiction jobs. With hope to cure diseases, end poverty, end famine, and create opportunities that never existed before.” And we wouldn’t be where we are today without the brilliant minds and innovative ideas of the scientists, researchers, and laboratory professionals behind it all.

As we celebrate this Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, we want to honor these heroes. We owe you our recognition, our respect, and our thanks.


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