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History of Medicine |

Ibn Sina and the Clinical Trial

Mohammad M. Sajadi, MD; Davood Mansouri, MD; and Mohamad-Reza M. Sajadi, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland, and National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, Tehran, Iran.


Note: The University of Tehran Bulaq edition (reference 1) was used for the translated portions relating to The Canon of Medicine that appear in quotes. For the treatise on drug testing, we included the text directly relating to the general descriptions and principles of the 7 conditions that Ibn Sina described. We omitted some text that referred to specific examples of drugs and disease conditions. To verify the accuracy of our translation, we cross-checked the entire treatise with another version, dated 1592 (Rome edition in Arabic), located in the Saab Library at the American University in Beirut (http://ddc.aub.edu.lb/projects/saab/avicenna), for which we are grateful to Najwa Al-amin.

Acknowledgment: The authors thank Dr. Philip Mackowiak for his helpful comments and support, Susan M. Sajadi for her technical editing, and the staff at the Welch Medical Library at the Johns Hopkins Institute of the History of Medicine.

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.

Requests for Single Reprints: Mohammad M. Sajadi, MD, 725 West Lombard Street, N548, Baltimore, MD 21201; e-mail, msajadi@ihv.umaryland.edu.

Current Author Addresses: Dr. M.M. Sajadi: University of Maryland School of Medicine, 655 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore MD 21201.

Dr. Mansouri: National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, Niavaran-Darabad, Tehran, Iran 19558.

Dr. M.R.M. Sajadi: Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 10 North Green Street, Baltimore, MD 21201.


Ann Intern Med. 2009;150(9):640-643. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-150-9-200905050-00011
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Approximately 1000 years ago, a physician by the name of Ibn Sina, known in the West as “Avicenna,” wrote 7 conditions for “The recognition of the strengths of the characteristics of medicines through experimentation.” Ibn Sina proposed applying logic to the testing of drugs, and in doing so, he wrote the earliest known treatise related to clinical trials. This article presents an overview and the historical context of Ibn Sina's life and work. In addition, the authors provide a translation of his treatise on drug testing and discuss its similarity to modern concepts of pharmacology and clinical trials.

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