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Biography of Andreas Vesalius
Andreas Vesalius was a Flemish anatomist and doctor who was born in Brussels in 1514. Do you know why he deserves a special place in medical history?
Most knowledge about human anatomy in Vesalius' time was based on ancient texts by Claudius Galen, a Greek physician who lived between 130 and 210 AD. Despite the facts that much time had passed since Galen lived and that his texts often showed differences with observed realities of the human body, Galen's theories remained the common standard in medical practice.
Vesalius publicly noted and documented his anatomical discoveries, which differed from Galen's and contributed a lot to our medical knowledge and development of the medical practice. Let's look at Vesalius' work in more depth.
Vesalius distinguished himself from his colleagues because he performed dissections on human corpses. In the 16th century, this was unusual because dissecting humans went against spiritual beliefs; thus, the the church did not approve of this practice. Considering that the church was very powerful in the Middle Ages, Vesalius did something truly revolutionary.
Much that was known about anatomy in Vesalius' times was based on animal studies. Direct observations that Vesalius performed on the human body showed differences between commonly applied theory and practice. That made Vesalius doubt Galen's works.
In 1543, Vasalius performed the first public dissection and prepared a skeleton. He granted the skeleton to the University of Basel in Switzerland, where it still can be found today. Vesalius is also considered the first to write a complete book on human anatomy. Called 'De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, or Fabrica for short, it was published in 1543 and contained detailed images of the inside of the human body. It's been suggested that several artists worked on the book's sketches.
The Fabrica demonstrated a major step toward development of modern medicine and was groundbreaking for the age. Vesalius also made a short version of this book, which he called the Epitome, and distributed it to his students for use in practice.
Not all medical colleagues shared Vesalius' vision in the Fabrica. When it came out, the book received a lot of negative feedback. Fellow scientists preferred Galen's books, despite their differences with reality. Vesalius was accused of being a barbaric practitioner and eventually forced to stop his medical practice due to public judgment.
During his lifetime, Vesalius was never fully acknowledged for his courage to make revolutionary medical strides. Only much later, after his death, did the Fabrica acquire respect within the scientific world and recognition as a major contribution to medical development.
Vesalius died on a trip to the Holy Land in 1564. Even today , it's not known how he died or where he's buried, which has led to much speculation.
Andreas Vesalius was a Flemish doctor who is notable for his contribution to the science of anatomy of the human body. He was the first to perform public dissection on a human corpse, a practice that was unusual in the Middle Ages due to spiritual beliefs.
Perhaps Vesalius' biggest legacy, though, was De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, or the Fabrica, the first complete and illustrated anatomy atlas. At the time of its publication in 1543, it received a lot of criticism from conservative colleagues who wished to continue with earlier theories despite visible differences with practice. This forced Vesalius to quit scientific work.
'Medical Disclaimer: The information on this site is for your information only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice'
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