(December 31, 1514 – October 15, 1564)

Andreas Vesalius was a surgeon (as well as a university professor) who made lasting and far-reaching discoveries in anatomy. He learned from the great works of his predecessors (such as Claudius Galen of Pergamon), improved upon them, disproved some, and encouraged students to use dissections as primary methods of learning anatomy (instead of pictorial illustrations). Unlike Galen who worked on monkeys and lower primates, Vesalius performed all his anatomical researches on human cadavers. He often researched in secret; and was one of the first scientists to detail the components of human circulatory system. His works on skeletons are also well-documented. The same goes with the nervous system, the muscular system and the digestive system. His findings brought him fame; and saw him appointed the personal physician to the Holy Roman emperor: Charles V (who also ruled Spain and the Habsburg Netherlands). In all, Andreas Vesalius’ works remained the definitive reference of human organs and systems for centuries after his death. Among his notable publications are De Humani Corporis Fabrica (which is a set of books dealing with various branches of anatomy), and Epistola, Docens Venam Axillarem Dextri Cubiti in Dolore Laterali Secandam (which dealt with the location-based venesection). Vesalius is a founder of human anatomy, alongside: Jacques Dubois, Jean Fernel and Gabriele Falloppio. While in Switzerland in 1543, he was permitted to prepare and preserve the skeleton of an infamous criminal named Jakob von Gebweiler. The so-called “Basel Skeleton” remains the oldest human anatomical research specimen in the world.

4 Comments

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