Medical Terminology Daily (MTD) is a blog sponsored by Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc. as a service to the medical community, medical students, and the medical industry. We will post a workweek daily medical or surgical term, its meaning and usage, as well as biographical notes on anatomists, surgeons, and researchers through the ages. Be warned that some of the images used depict human anatomical specimens.

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A Moment in History

Johann Gottfried Zinn

Johann Gottfried Zinn

Anatomist and botanist, Johann Gottfried Zinn was born on December 6, 1727 in the city of Ansbach, Germany. He started his medical studies in his native city, becoming later a student of Dr.  Albrecht von Hallers at the University of Göttingen, and received his MD in 1749.

He left for Berlin to continue his studies but came back shortly thereafter. He became a professor of anatomy at the University of Göttingen and in 1753 he also became the director of the botanical garden in the same city.

He is known for his anatomical treatise on the anatomy of the human eye: “Descriptio anatomica oculi humani iconibus illustrata”. Because of this, his name has become an eponym in the “Zonule of Zinn”, a ring of strands that forms a fibrous band connecting the ciliary body with the capsule of the lens of the eye. Zonule of Zinn is sometimes referred to as the suspensory ligaments of the lens, or the “ligament of Zinn”. His name is also attached to the anular ring tendon found in the posterior aspect of the eye, the "anular tendon of Zinn". This ring serves as attachment for all the extraocular muscles of the eye and the optic nerve passes through the center of the ring.

Carol Linné (Carolus Linneaus) named a genus of flowers in the family Asteraceae known vernacularly today as “Zinnia” in his honor. Hover your cursor over his portrait to see the flower.

The chapter on orbital anatomy of his anatomy book, taken from the second edition in 1780, has been translated and the first of three parts is published in an issue of “Strabismus”

His book "Catalogus Plantarum Horti Academici Et Agri" can be seen online here.

His life was short, dying at the early age of 32, but his name lives on in the name of a beautiful flower.

1. “Johann Gottfried Zinn" Simonz, HJ Strabismus – 2004, Vol. 12, No. 2, p. 125 
2. "Anatomical Description of the Human Eye" Zinn, JG Strabismus, 13:45–52, 2005 
Images: Public Domain by Wikipedia Commons. 1. Own work I_am Jin, and H. Wilhem Dietz

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Sir Astley Paston Cooper

This article is part of the series "A Moment in History" where we honor those who have contributed to the growth of medical knowledge in the areas of anatomy, medicine, surgery, and medical research.To search all the articles in this series, click here.

Sir Astley Paston Cooper (1768 - 1841). An English anatomist and surgeon, Astley Cooper started his medical studies when he was only 16, at the St. Thomas hospital in London. He studied under Henry Cline, and later under John Hunter. Astley Cooper was a well-known anatomist, lecturer, and surgeon in his time. He is known for his many studies in abdominal hernia, otology, aneurysms, and the anatomy and diseases of the breast. In 1804 he described the abdominal transversalis fascia and the internal inguinal ring.

Born in the village of Brooke, Norfolk. At 16 years of age he was placed under the tutelage of Henry Cline (1750 - 1827), senior surgeon at the St. Thomas hospital in London for a seven-year apprenticeship. In 1789 he was appointed as an anatomy lecturer at the same hospital. In 1800 Cooper was appointed Surgeon to the Guy's Hospital in London.

He was the first to attempt the ligation of the abdominal aorta in a patient that had suffered an aortic abdominal aneurysm rupture. The patient survived for one additional day. "Astley Cooper introduced no new philosophy, policy or practice into surgery but was the perfect exponent of the scientific approach to surgery combined with skillful and successful practical ability" Brock (1969)

Sir Astley Paston Cooper
Photograph courtesy of:
Cooper’s name survives in several eponymous anatomical structures and diseases he described, following are two of them:

Cooper's ligaments of the breast: Connective tissue ligamentous strands between the pectoral fascia and the skin overlying the breast.
Cooper's pectineal ligament: A thickening of the periostium on the superior aspect of the pubic bone, lateral to the pubic tubercle. This structure is a preferred site for staple positioning during a laparoscopic herniorrhaphy. When placing the staples, consideration should be placed on the potential presence of an anatomical vascular variation named the "Corona Mortis".

Although Cooper published a number of books and research papers, his seminal contribution to surgery was his two-volume "Treatise on Hernia". The first volume was published in 1795 and the second volume in 1807, with a revised second edition published in 1827.

1. "Sir Astley Paston Cooper." Singal, R. et al. Indian J Surg 73:1 (2011): 82-84.
2. "Sir Astley Paston Cooper, 1768-1841:the prince of surgery"Rawling, EG. Can Med Assoc J 99.5 (1968): 221.
3. "The life and work of Sir Astley Cooper" Brock, RC. Ann Royal Coll Surg England 44.1 (1969): 1-18