World’s Super Scientists – Andreas Vesalius

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Anatomy is scrutiny – Andreas Vesalius

Scientist Andreas Vesalius (1514 to 1564) ‘Master of Anatomy’ was a Flemish anatomist who was born in Brussels in the year 1514.

Anatomy is that branch of medical science dealing with the structures and organs in the human body. It is a modern observational science.

Subgroups in anatomy.

Osteology :  Study of bones.

Embryology : Study of the embryo.

In the present context, anatomy refers to human anatomy. Each animal has its distinct anatomy.

As a youth, his mind was preoccupied with thoughts about cutting open animals, called dissection. He was amused by the dissection of animals, birds and mice.

Scientist Andreas Vesalius studied in the University of Louvain and medical school in Paris. He completed his medical studies in the University of Padua, a prestigious institution in Italy in those days.

Padua produced many scientists. He worked as professor of anatomy and surgery in Padua till 1543.
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People feel unaesthetic and view with disfavour the cutting of a dead body! Yet and but, this is the only way of . learning. As medical students, scalpel and knife, viz., the instruments for doing dissection of cadavers greet us in the first year of study.

It is to be emphasised that the medical student should dissect with his own hands with the help of scalpel and knife, not merely watch somebody else doing the job.

The smell of dead flesh camouflaged by preservatives has a nauseating effect to start with, but soon the thirst for knowledge wins over this discomfort. Urge to learn is Divine; Work is Worship; Practice Penance.

It is not uncommon for doctors to offer prayers before surgery.

The most embarrassing and challenging situation in Andreas’ dissections of cadavers was to cast doubt on the infallibility of Galen who wrote his notes on human anatomy on the basis of dissection of barbary apes.

When Scientist Andreas Vesalius pointed out error in Galen’s work, the 1500 years standing and unopposed fame of Galen would get into jeopardy – authorities would say that the human body has changed in its anatomy since Galen’s time, because nobody had the courage to disagree with Galen.

Such was the victory of faith! Notwithstanding this, the test of time has proved that Andreas Vesalius was correct and Galen was wrong.

Jan Stephen van Calcar, a Flemish painter added colour to The Fabrica, book written by Vesalius by adding very good illustrations; the drawings were most accurate and natural in tint, displaying life in the dead.

Scientist Andreas Vesalius was physician to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and to Philip II, King of Spain. He prepared seven books – On the Structure of the Human Body, but hesitated to publish them fearing criticism would undermine the value. He died in 1564.

Glory to the semi-centenarian who unearthed the fathoms of anatomy by patient and able dissections of the human body.

  • Anatomy is the scrutiny of normal parts in the body; pathology is the study of injured / diseased parts in the body.
  • Eschew anatomy of religion and pathology of caste.

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