De Humani Corporis Fabrica

Today I wanted to do a quick post not really related to revision and studying.

I have chosen to write about a book ‘De Humani Corporis Fabrica’ written in the 16th century by Andreas Vesalius. It is technically a book, but in my opinion it is an absolutely astonishing work of art. Andreas Vesalius can be considered as the founding father of modern human anatomy. Through doing dissections and studying the human body in a detail that was unconventional for that time, he disproved a lot of incorrect theories from the archaic Dark Ages. His book and the artwork in it dispersed a ray of enlightenment about the refined allure of the human body. It is certainly a beautiful metaphor for the renaissance of medicine. Through studying the history of medicine and Vesalius’s contributions in detail, I have realised the importance of innovation. Medicine wouldn’t be the forefront field it is today without the hard work and ingenious thinking of past folk. We magnificently keep pushing the boundaries of what we know and keep expanding our globe of knowledge.

Through exploring the library at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (Wonford site) I was perplexed at finding a copy of this book from the 1960s. I couldn’t contain my elation at seeing these drawings in reality. As a person who has been engrossed in the human anatomy and anatomical drawings for quite some time I burst into quiet hysteria (I was at a library after all). To give you some context to the basis of my reaction: in a year 9 English class I was asked to talk about an important historical figure that I would want to have a conversation with and I chose Andreas Vesalius. I was quite possibly the epitome of geeky. The teachings of Galen, including purging and treating the plague with arsenic, were used for over a millennium beforehand. The knowledge of human anatomy was solely based on what we knew about apes and pigs. Vesalius renewed interest in evidence based practice. This undoubtedly caused a paradigm shift in the way medicine was taught and practised. The culture of unconditionally believing what was written in textbooks was replaced with the system of constant questioning and analysing the findings yourself with repeat experiments and dissections. For me, this piece of art is a beacon of hope and advancement. Vesalius grounded surgical practice in correct anatomy and made it the specialty it is today. Our textbooks would look very different if it wasn’t for him.

If you are a medical student or simply a person who is interested in medicine, I think it’s very important to sometimes be reminded about the past achievements of people that absolutely changed the way medicine worked forever.  It is good to know and remember where it all came from. I hope you stay motivated and have a lovely day!

Tori x


(PS I took the picture featured on this article)


10 responses to “De Humani Corporis Fabrica

  1. Very interesting read ! Goes to show how far medicine has come 🙂 Yet we still apply some of the same principles. Excellent !
    Might I ask what year are you in ? I am also in med 🙂

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