Tag Archives: George Dunea

Through the magic door with Conan Doyle

“Father said it used to be a gentleman was known by his books.” — William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury   You are invited, gentle reader, to walk through the magic door and step into the library. Smoking is allowed, says your host, as he invites you to sit on the green settee from […]

Ibn al-Nafis and the pulmonary circulation

  Medical advances are often made over long periods of time, making it difficult to assign priority to any particular individual. Such has been the case for the ”discovery” of the pulmonary circulation, a distinction variously assigned to three anatomists of the sixteenth century, Michael Servetus, Realdo Colombo, and Andrea Cesalpino. But in 1924 the […]

Hieronymus Fabricius of Acquapendente (1537-1619)

  The Bursa of Fabricius is a sac-like organ responsible for producing immunogenic B-lymphocytes and present only in the cloaca of birds. But the man who described it, far from being an obscure ornithologist, was a reputed professor of anatomy and surgery. Born in 1537 near Orvieto in central Italy, he had as a youngster […]

Juan Valdeverde de Amusco (1525-1588)

      In the days before intellectual property laws (and when plagiarism was sometimes viewed as a compliment to the author) Juan Valverde of Spain wrote a book on anatomy so successful that it went through sixteen editions in four languages and its illustrations remain popular to this day. It was composed in 1556 […]

Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694)

  Marcello Malpighi was fortunate to live at a time when microscopes of sufficient power became available for scientific studies, culminating centuries of attempts to use the optic properties of glass to magnify the image of objects. Such efforts go back at least to the Romans, who for this purpose ground glass into the shape […]

Andrea Cesalpino ca.1520–1603

  Of the three 16th century Italians anatomists who advanced our knowledge about the pulmonary circulation, Andrea Cesalpino is perhaps the least known. Unlike Michael Servetus (ca.1511-1553) he was not burned at the stake for heresy. Unlike Roaldo Colombo (1516- 1515 ) he did not carry out thousands of dissections and work with Michelangelo; and […]

Realdo Colombo (ca.1515-1559)

  Although Italy during the Renaissance consisted of a mosaic of independent states, its inhabitants and particularly academicians seem to have moved freely from one city state to another. Thus it came about that the anatomist Matteo Realdo Colombo was born and educated in the principality of Milan (in philosophy and later as an apothecary); […]

Giovanni Batista Morgagni (1602-1771)

  Father of fifteen and teacher of thousands, Batista Morgagni became immortally famous by going one step further than his illustrious predecessors at Padua, describing not the normal anatomy of hanged criminals but the damaged organs of patients dying from disease. For this he is remembered as the father of pathological anatomy. At the University […]

Michael Servetus (ca.1511-1553)

  Michael Servetus is remembered for being burned at the stake for heresy and for making important observations on the pulmonary circulation. In his Christianismi Restitutio, a theological treatise that touched on medicine, he postulated that blood in the body was divided into different segments (which he called God- ordained spirits): one in the arteries, […]

Gabriele Falloppio (Fallopius) 1523- 1562

  In the days when the outcome of an oral examination could have depended on the caprices of a whimsical professor, candidates in obstetrics–gynecology might have been asked who first described the tube that leads from the ovary to the uterus, or perhaps who was Dr. Fallopius. Such a mishap is unlikely to happen in […]