Monday, 29 October 2012


Andreas Vesalius was born in 1514 in Brussels and died in 1564 in Zakynthos. He was an anatomist, physician and author who created seven brilliant scientific books on anatomy: De humani corporis fabrica libri septem (The Seven Books on the Structure of the Human Body). Vesalius is often referred to as the founder of modern human anatomy.

In 1528, Vesalius attended the University of Leuven taking arts, but he moved to Paris where he studied Galen’s works in the University of Paris. He developed an interest in anatomy here and was often found studying bones in the Cemetery of the Innocents. Vesalius was forced to move out of Paris, due to hostility between France and the Holy Roman Empire. He returned to Leuven and studied in the University of Leuven again, but graduated the next year. He left briefly after a dispute with his professor. He then went to the University of Padua in 1536 to receive his doctorate and received it in 1537.

On his graduation he was offered the chair of Surgery and Anatomy at Padua. He also guest lectured in Bologna and Pisa. Previously these topics were read from classic texts, mainly Galen, followed by an animal dissection by the barber-surgeon. No attempt was made to check Galen’s claims. Vesalius on the other hand, carried out dissection as a primary teaching tool, while students viewed his work around the table. He kept drawings of his work for his students in the form six large illustrated tables. When he found that some of the drawings were widely copied, he published these tables under the title Tabulae Anatomicae Sex.

In 1541, Vesalius uncovered the fact that Galen’s research was based on the bodies of animals, not humans. This was due to the fact that, in Ancient Rome, dissection was banned. Galen had mainly used the body of a species of ape, as he believed that this body was the closest to a human’s. Because of this, Vesalius corrected Galen’s Opera omnia and wrote down his own anatomical texts. Until Vesalius pointed this out, it had long gone unnoticed and was the foundation of anatomical teachings. Although Vesalius was right, people still believed Galen’s claims and they also believed that Vesalius was wrong.

Later Vesalius stirred up some more disagreement. This time, not only disproving Galen, but also Aristotle, all three had made hypotheses of the functions and structure of the heart, which were clearly wrong. For example, Vesalius had noted that the heart had four chambers; the liver four lobes and the fact that arteries came from the heart. Another example would be, when he disproved Galen’s assumption that the jaw bone was made up of two, when actually, it was made up of one.

Galen assumed that arteries carried blood to the more important organs, such as the brain from the left ventricle of the heart, and that veins carried blood to the lesser organs, such as the stomach from the right ventricle of the heart. In order for this theory to be true, there would need to be a hole to interconnect these ventricles and Galen said that he had found this hole. So for nearly 2000 years, people believed that there really was a hole, until Vesalius proved Galen wrong. Vesalius had said that there was no hole.

Because of Vesalius’ findings, modern medicine owes Vesalius for advancing human anatomy. By overturning people’s traditions of Galen’s ideas, Vesalius helped people for nearly 1000 years in the study of human anatomy.

My conclusion is that Vesalius is very important figure in the study of anatomy. So Vesalius would really be the founder of modern human anatomy.

By Aynan Muse

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Galen was born in 129AD and died 200AD. He was a Roman (with Greek ethnicity) physician and surgeon. He contributed greatly in fields of anatomy*, physiology*1 and pathology*2. Because he was the son of Aelius Nicon, a wealthy architect, Galen received a comprehensive education, which would help him as a physician in his later life. He travelled far and wide, which helped him learn about many medical theories, before settling in Rome where he was a personal physician to several emperors.
Galen throughout his life dissected animals to know how the body worked. He discovered that urine was produced in the kidneys, not the bladder which was common belief. Although he discovered many scientific breakthroughs within anatomy, his most important discovery was that arteries carried blood, but he did not discover circulation. Even though he made fantastic discoveries, he did make mistakes. For example he said that the jaw bone was made up of two bones, when actually it was made up of one bone. Another would be when he said that blood was created in the liver (when actually, it is not) and that blood was fuel which was burnt up for muscles.
Hippocrates’ theory of the four humours helped Galen understand how the body worked (though he made some mistakes), but he knew that Hippocrates’ theory wouldn’t help make treatments for the ill. Due to this, Galen made his own theory called ‘Theory of Opposites’. This theory was a development of Hippocrates’ own theory. This theory was used for nearly 2000 years to treat the ill. One example of the theory was when, if you have a cold (too much phlegm), you should have something hot, like pepper. This would help to restore the body’s natural balance. This theory was wrong, but even if this theory was wrong, it helped physicians in the future to know how to actually treat patients.
The judgement of this person is that, even though he made many mistakes, he did help physicians and surgeons in the future learn how to actually treat patients. So Galen is definite one of the most important figures in medicine.

By Aynan Muse

*Anatomy is the study of the structure of animals
*1Physiology is the study of living thing’s bodily functions
*2Pathology is the study of the causes and effects of diseases.
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Sunday, 28 October 2012


Hippocrates was born around 420BC on the island of Kos and died in 377BC in Larissa. He was a very famous Greek Physician of Classical Greece and is considered one of most outstanding figures in medicine. He is sometimes referred to the father of medicine. He was given a prison sentence because his perspective of medicine was different from the whole of Greece. During his prison days, he wrote the book The Complicated Body which contains many things we believe to be true today.
He had two sons who were named Thessalus and Draco and he also had a son-in-law named Polybus. Galen, a later physician, stated that Hippocrates successor was Polybus. Historians have said that each of his sons, Thessalus and Draco, had a son named Hippocrates.
Hippocrates is well-known for his theory of the four humours and his advancement of clinical medicine. The theory of the four humours is Hippocrates' most famous theory. Although it is now not used anymore, it is medically important. This theory was about how Hippocrates thought he could treat patients. The four humours were: Black bile (maybe vomit which contains blood), yellow bile (vomit), blood and phlegm. These four humours were often associated with the four seasons: Spring (blood), Summer (yellow bile), Autumn (black bile) and Winter (phlegm). They were also associated with the four elements: Air (blood and spring), Fire (yellow bile and summer), earth (black bile and autumn) and water (phlegm and winter).
Finally, Hippocrates made an oath. It was called the Hippocratic Oath. It was written in Greek. Also, it was part of the Hippocratic Corpus and historians are wondering if he wrote this corpus or not. The Hippocratic Oath was a document and historians believe that he did not write this document and that it was written after his death. This document is used very rarely today, but it have been an inspiration for similar oaths used by physicians today.
The judgement of this article is that Hippocrates is very important in the field of medicine. Although his theory of the four humours was incorrect, his mistake inspired people to learn more about the human body and may have helped improve people's understanding of medicine. So Hippocrates might really be the 'father of medicine'.
By Aynan Muse

Picture does not belong to Medical History 101