(July 12, 1813 – February 10, 1878)
This audacious 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 embracing medicine. Encouraged by the grouchy physiologist François Magendie, Bernard honed his vivisecting skills and began assisting Magendie in neurological research. Subsequent solo studies of 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 revived 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 utilized the term “milieu intérieur” to describe interstitial fluids, as well as their physiological roles in protecting tissues, stabilizing organs and supporting general well-being. As a staunch advocate of experimental inquests, 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 results of cell theorists: such as Rudolf Virchow and Camillo Golgi. Relying on his principles of scientific determinism, (which insisted that identical experiments should produce identical results), he standardized blind experiments, and succeeded in expunging disputed fallacies. Regarding obeisance, Claude Bernard was the first scientist accorded state funeral in France. Other posthumous honors have since been added to that.