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Andreas Vesalius

Andreas Vesalius

Was an anatomist and physician , and author of one of the most

influential books on human anatomy. In 1528 Vesalius entered the
University of Leuven taking arts, but when his father was appointed as
the Valet de Chambre in 1532, he decided to pursue a career in
medicine at the University of Paris, where he moved in 1533. Here he
studied the theories of Galen under the auspices of Jacques Dubois
and Jean Fernel. It was during this time that he developed his interest in
anatomy, and was often found examining bones at the Cemetery of the

Vesalius was forced to leave Paris in 1536 due to the opening of

hostilities between the Holy Roman Empire and France, and returned to
Leuven. Here he completed his studies under and graduated the next
year. He remained at Leuven only briefly before leaving after a dispute
with his professor. After settling briefly in Venice in 1536, he moved to
the University of Padua to study for his doctorate, which he received in

On graduation he was immediately offered the chair of Surgery and

Anatomy at Padua. He also guest lectured at Bologna and Pisa.
Previously these topics had been taught primarily from reading classic
texts, mainly Galen, followed by an animal dissection by a barber-
surgeon whose work was directed by the lecturer. No attempt was
made to actually check Galen's claims; these were considered
unassailable. Vesalius, on the other hand, carried out dissection as the
primary teaching tool, handling the actual work himself while his
students clustered around the table. Hands-on direct observation was
considered the only reliable resource, a huge break with medieval
He kept meticulous drawings of his work for his students in the form of
six large illustrated anatomical tables. When he found that some of
these were being widely copied, he published them all in 1538 under
the title Tabulae Anatomicae Sex. He followed this in 1539 with an
updated version of Galen's anatomical handbook, Institutiones
Anatomicae. When this reached Paris one of his former professors
published an attack on this version.

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