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Andreas Vesalius
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Doctor
    (December 31, 1514-October 15, 1564)
    Born in Brussels, Belgium
    Birth name was Andreas van Wesel
    Professor of surgery and anatomy at the University of Padua (1537-43)
    Court physician to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1543-58)
    Published 'De Humani Corporis Fabrica' ('On the Workings of the Human Body,' 1543)
    Died on the Greek island of Zakynthos while returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land
    Considered the founder of modern anatomy
    As a medical student, he stole corpses for dissection.
    He left the University of Leuven over a dispute with his professors.
    He advocated bloodletting.
    He conducted public dissections of executed criminals.
    After his death, his enemies spread the story that his pilgrimage had been punishment for performing a dissection on a cadaver who was still alive (at least at the start of the autopsy).
    Prior to him, anatomy was usually taught by reading from the texts of the Roman physician Galen, whose conclusions were considered unquestionable.
    By performing dissections, he discovered over 200 errors made by Galen.
    His emphasis on hands-on direct observation was an important break with medieval practice.
    At least one defender of Galen argued that Galen had been right; the problem was that the human body had changed during the last thousand years.
    Most historians think the story that he went on his pilgrimage as penance for a premature dissection to be complete bunk.

Credit: C. Fishel


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