(December 31, 1514 – October 15, 1564)

Andreas Vesalius was a surgeon (and university professor) who made lasting and far-reaching discoveries in anatomy. He learned from the great works of his predecessors (such as 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 lower primates, Vesalius used human cadavers for all his anatomical research. He often researched secretly; and was among the first scientists who detailed the components of human circulatory system. His scrutinies of skeletons are also well-documented. The same applies to 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 was also the ruler of Spain and the Habsburg Netherlands). In all, Andreas Vesalius’ findings remained the definitive reference of human organs and systems for centuries after his death. Among his most notable publications are De Humani Corporis Fabrica (which is a set of textbooks 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 preserve the skeleton of Jakob von Gebweiler (an infamous felon). That so-called “Basel Skeleton” remains the world’s oldest human anatomical research specimen. Dedicated to him is the 61-kilometer-wide Vesalius lunar crater.


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