Pancreatitis was first identified as a disease in 1889 by Reginald Fitz. Up until that time, the organ was poorly understood. The first description of it came from Herophilus, a Greek physician and one of the earliest recorded anatomists.
In the 17th century, scientists identified the central duct associated with the organ and were able to determine its importance in human physiology.
Medicine has evolved considerably since that time. Today, there are procedures like the Whipple that can remove cancerous tissue from the pancreas due to chronic pancreatitis. Medical science is also making progress with the transplantation of isolated islets and the portions of the pancreas, as well.