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Saunders, John Bertrand Decusance
Born in Brussels, Belgium, Andreas Vesalius was a Flemish anatomist whose sixteenth-century work, De humani corporis fabrica, is widely considered one of the most influential medical books. Educated at the University of Louvain, Vesalius chose the University of Paris for his medical training, where he became interested in anatomy and acquired his skills at dissection, both in the tradition of Galen. He left Paris and completed his education in 1537 at the University of Padua, then the most famous college in Europe. In Padua, Vesalius published a dissection manual for his students and continued to refine his dissection techniques and to expand his knowledge of human anatomy, mainly by dissecting cadavers. He also began to note discrepancies between his observations and what was then published about human anatomy, based on Galen's work in the second century. In 1540 Vesalius began developing the Fabrica, as it is called, which took nearly three years. He supervised all aspects of the making of the book and its publication in 1543, giving the world the finest elucidation of anatomy to that date. It proved that much of Galenic anatomy was based on inaccurate assumptions, thus altering the study of medicine profoundly. The exquisite illustrations, drawn by artists in Titian's Venetian studio, are so outstanding that they are important as art and as science. Several supplements to the original and a second edition of this great anatomical treatise were published in Vesalius's lifetime. Surprisingly, he gave up his anatomical studies and became a court physician to Emperor Charles V and later to Philip II of Spain, at whose court he remained until his death.
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