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October 03 , 2008

Andreas Vesalius

The Making, The Madman, and the Myth


Andreas Vesalius 1514-1564 By Stephen N. Joffe, M.D. Vesalius was the foremost pioneer of modern anatomy. Born in Brussels, he came from a family of physicians. Educated in Louvain, he studied medicine in Montpelier and Paris, returning to Louvain to teach anatomy. In 1535 he went to France to be an army surgeon to King Charles V and two years later became a professor of anatomy in Padua, Italy. Subsequently he became a physician to the court of Philip II of Spain. On a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he received a call to return to Padua to occupy chair of Fallopius. In a storm leading to a shipwreck and subsequent death on the Isle of Zante, Vesalius was buried there in an unmarked grave in 1564. This marked the end of the ‘prince of anatomy.’ Vesalius’ book De Humani Corporus Fabrica published in Basel in 1543, contributes one of the greatest treasures of western civilization and culture. With its companion volume the Epitome, began the modern observational science and research.

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