(July 12, 1813 – February 10, 1878)
This 19th century physiologist, who became the first researcher to adopt the so-called “blind experiments”, made pioneering discoveries in gastroenterology, neurology, and homeostasis. But long before that, Claude Bernard struggled to carve a niche for himself. Having lost his father, he did menial jobs, tried unsuccessfully to become a playwright, before focusing on medicine. Encouraged by the renowned physiologist, François Magendie, Bernard honed his vivisecting skills and began assisting Magendie in neurological researches. Subsequent solo experiments with rabbits led him to discover the respective functions of the pancreas and the liver: pertaining to digestion of fats, conversions of glucose to glycogen: and thus a new insight into diabetes mellitus. He also demonstrated the concept of physiological constancy or stability: as per equilibrium between various interdependent elements in the body. Indeed, it was him who first used the French term “milieu intérieur” to describe the interstitial fluids, as well as their physiological roles in protecting tissues, stabilizing organs and supporting our general well-being. As an advocate of experimental investigations, he famously called laboratories the temples of science. His publications are many and centered mostly on practicals. Claude Bernard’s cellular physiology complemented and consolidated previous works of cell theorists such as Rudolf Virchow and Camillo Golgi. Relying on his principle of scientific determinism, (which insists that identical experiments should produce identical results), he standardized blind experiments, and succeeded in expunging various fallacies. Among his numerous accolades, Claude Bernard was the first scientist to be accorded a state funeral in France.