Tag Archives: Botany

John Caius, the polymath who described the sweating sickness

Philip Liebson Chicago, Illinois, United States   John Caius (1510-1573), Master of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. 1563. Unknown painter. Credit: Gonville & Caius College, University of Cambridge. Imagine being a physician in a rural community in England in the mid-sixteenth century, always concerned with the reappearance of the Black Death. Late one summer you […]

Nicholas Senn, the great master of abdominal surgery

Photo of Nicholas Senn. From A group of distinguished physicians and surgeons of Chicago… by F.M. Sperry. 1904. Via Wikimedia. Public Domain. Nicholas Senn was a man with an extraordinary capacity for work, an innovator, always trying new methods, even new experiments that he first conducted on himself. Born in 1844 in St. Gaul, Switzerland, […]

John S. Bristowe: Victorian physician and polymath

Arpan K. Banerjee  Solihull, UK   Photograph of John Syer Bristowe (1827–1895), English physician. G. Jerrard. 1895. Accessed via Wikimedia. John Syer Bristowe was a Victorian physician and polymath who served his alma mater, St. Thomas’ Hospital, with great distinction. He was born into a medical family on 19 June 1827 in Camberwell in Southeast […]

Albrecht von Haller, physiologist and polymath

Medicine was only one of the many interests of Albrecht von Haller. He was physician, anatomist, botanist, and physiologist, wrote poetry, studied religion and philosophy, and has been called the father of physiology and founder of hemodynamics.1,2 Born in 1708 in Bern, Switzerland, into a family of priests and magistrates, he was a weak and […]

William Withering and the foxglove

William Withering, W. Bond, 19th century Engraving of Carl Frederik von Breda painting In 1785 William Withering, physician and botanist in Birmingham, England, wrote a book describing how for ten years he had used an extract of foxglove to treat patients afflicted with swollen legs and abdomen. He said he had often been urged to […]