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Making Water Purification Possible Is Just One Example Of John Hopkins Research Discoveries



We also developed the ramjet engine, launched the field of genetic engineering, and authenticated the Dead Sea Scrolls.


At Johns Hopkins, research isn’t just something we do—it’s who we are. For more than 140 years, our faculty and students have worked side by side in a tireless pursuit of discovery. Their efforts have led to advances in human knowledge that include the first color photograph of Earth taken from space and the research that led to child safety restraint laws, Dramamine, rubber surgical gloves, and, yes, the system of water purification by chlorination, which was eventually adopted by every major municipal and industrial water supply system in the country and many other parts of the world. The good work continues, with faculty conducting research in the humanities, social and natural sciences, engineering, international studies, education, business, and health and medicine—and about two-thirds of our undergraduates engaging in some form of research during their time here. Who knows what they’ll discover next?


Over the years, John Hopkins researchers:

  • Unveiled the first detailed images of images of Ultima Thule—the most distant space object ever explored—as part of the New Horizons mission (2019)

  • Designed, built, and operated the Parker Solar Probe, a NASA spacecraft that will travel within 4 million miles of the surface of the sun (2018)

  • Developed and received FDA-approval for an immunotherapy drug for cancer based on genetic glitch rather than organ site (2017)

  • Built JEDI, one of nine scientific instruments aboard NASA’s JUNO spacecraft, which is orbiting Jupiter (2016)

  • Designed, built, and operated the New Horizons spacecraft, which completed a flyby of Pluto (2015)

  • Cataloged more than 80 percent of the proteins in the human body—the “proteome”—as a biomedical resource (2014)

  • Showed that half-matched bone marrow transplants are comparable to fully matched tissue (2011)

  • Developed a blood test for cancer (2008)

  • First cancer genomes decoded (2006)

  • Determined that massive, mature, fully formed galaxies existed more than 8 billion years ago, far earlier than expected, necessitating a re-examination of the dominant theory of galactic evolution (2004).

  • Sent a spacecraft to Mercury to orbit the planet and see its entire surface for the first time (2004)

  • OVER THE YEARS, JOHNS HOPKINS RESEARCHERS… Pioneered exchange of kidneys among incompatible donors (2003-2009)

  • Landed the first spacecraft on an asteroid (2001)

  • Isolated and cultivated human embryonic stem cells, the undifferentiated cells from which an entire human being eventually develops (1998)

  • Helped develop the first effective treatment for sickle cell anemia (1995)

  • Discovered that pennies’ worth of vitamin A supplements administered to Indonesian children as part of a blindness prevention program were accompanied by a dramatic drop in infant death rates, leading to similar vitamin treatments for thousands of children in developing countries (1983–86)

  • Identified high rates of infant deaths in motor vehicle accidents, leading to the passage of child safety restraint laws throughout the United States (1979)

  • Developed the first successful treatment to desensitize people against bee stings (1975)

  • Invented the first implantable, rechargeable pacemaker for cardiac disorders (1972)

  • Took the first color photograph of the whole earth from space (1967)

  • Discovered restriction enzymes, the so-called “biochemical scissors,” which gave birth to the entire field of genetic engineering (1960s).

  • The discoverers were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1978 for their achievement Conducted the first large-scale research study of conditions of inequality in American schools, which resulted in the landmark report “Equality of Educational Opportunity“ (1960)

  • Invented cardiopulmonary resuscitation, thanks to a chance observation during work on the defibrillating machine (also invented at Johns Hopkins) that weight placed on the chest increases blood pressure (1958. First performed in July 1959)

  • Showed that retrolental fibroplasia, which causes blindness in premature infants, was related to high concentrations of oxygen used in babies’ incubators (1954)

  • Confirmed the authenticity of the Dead Sea Scrolls, speeding acceptance as genuine of these earliest biblical manuscripts (1948)

  • Discovered Dramamine’s effectiveness in alleviating motion sickness (1948)

  • Immunized chimpanzees with inactivated vaccines, essential to the development of the first widely used polio vaccine and a major step toward the prevention of poliomyelitis in human beings (1947–52)

  • Took the first images of Earth’s curvature, from a V-2 rocket (1946)

  • Developed the first supersonic ramjet engine (1944)

  • Developed the “blue baby” operation to correct congenital heart defects, ushering in a new era in open heart surgery (1944)

  • Published the first modern edition of the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh,’ making available to the world the most significant extra-biblical work of ancient Near Eastern literature (1891)

  • Introduced the rubber glove for use during surgery (1889)


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