Views & Reviews Medical Classics


BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 24 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:221
  1. John Beard, GP trainee and MSc student in history of science, technology, and medicine
  1. johnbeard{at}

    In the early 16th century anatomy became an increasingly important component of a doctor’s learning. The Renaissance brought with it an influx of newly translated Galenic texts (including large anatomical guides), and these helped to enhance this fashionable area of study. In addition there emerged an emphasis on physicians doing dissection themselves—seeing with their own eyes what parts of the body look like. The foremost exponent of this practical, hands-on approach was Andreas Vesalius.

    Born in Brussels in 1514, Vesalius was the son of an apothecary. He studied medicine at Paris, where he was educated …

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