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Andreas Vesalius

Vesalius, Andreas (vĭsāˈlēəs) [key], 1514–64, Flemish anatomist. He made many discoveries in anatomy and became noted as professor of anatomy at the Univ. of Padua. There he produced his chief work, De humani corporis fabrica (1543), based on studies made by dissection of human cadavers; the notable illustrations are attributed to Jan von Calcar. Vesalius's condensation (1543) appeared in English as The Epitome of Andreas Vesalius (1949). His work overthrew many of the hitherto-uncontested doctrines of the second-century anatomist Galen, and caused a storm of criticism from other anatomists. Vesalius's work was revolutionary, as he was among the first to perform thorough cadaver dissections himself. He showed that Galen's anatomy was merely an attempt to apply animal structure to the human body, and was not based on any direct knowledge of human anatomy. He left Padua, becoming physician to Emperor Charles V and to his son Philip II. In 1563, he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and on the return voyage died in Greece.

See biography by C. D. O'Malley (1964); J. B. de C. M. Saunders and C. D. O'Malley, Illustrations from the Works of Andreas Vesalius (1950, repr. 1973).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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