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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

Thomas Willis, MD
Thomas Willis
(1621-1675)

An English physician and anatomist, Willis was born on his parents' farm in Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, where his father held the stewardship of the Manor. He was a kinsman of the Willys baronets of Fen Ditton, Cambridgeshire. He graduated M.A. from Christ Church, Oxford in 1642. In the Civil War years he was a royalist, and was dispossessed of the family farm at North Hinksey by Parliamentary forces. In the 1640's Willis was one of the royal physicians to Charles I of England. He obtained his medical degree in 1646.

Thomas Willis might well be one of the greatest physicians of the 17th century.He is one of the founders of the Royal Society of London. He is remembered by his many publications, especially "Cerebri Anatome: Cui accessit Nervorum Descriptio et Usu", where he describes the arterial anastomoses at the base of the brain. This work is also the first detailed description of the vasculature of the brain. Willis described nine cranial nerves.

He is considered as the father of Neurology as a discipline. He used the term "neurology" for the first time in 1664. He described several neurological conditions

The Arterial Circle of Willis is a famous eponymous structure found at the base of the brain. It represents an anastomotic roundabout that connects the right and left sides as well as the carotid and vertebral arterial territories that supply the brain. Named after Thomas Willis, this structure was known well before him, but it was Willis who described its function.  If you click on the image or here, you will be redirected to a detailed description of this structure.

Sources:

1. "The legendary contributions of Thomas Willis (1621-1675): the arterial circle and beyond" Rengachary SS et al J Neurosurg. 2008 Oct;109(4):765-75
2. "Thomas Willis, a pioneer in translational research in anatomy (on the 350th anniversary of Cerebri anatome)" Arraez-AybarJournal of Anatomy, 03/2015, Volume 226, Issue 3
3. " The naming of the cranial nerves: A historical review" Davis, M Clinical Anatomy, 01/2014, Volume 27, Issue 1
4. "Observations on the history of the circle of Willis". Meyer A, Hieros, R.Med Hist 6:119–130, 1962


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The presence of Andreas Vesalius in Zakynthos (3)

Continued from "The presence of Andreas Vesalius in Zakynthos (2)"

According to Theo Dirix, Belgian Consul to Greece and Vesalius enthusiast, there are other reminders on the island such as a painting in one of the local schools.

On September 3rd, 2014, as part of the Vesalius Continuum meeting on Zakynthos Island, a new bronze statue was unveiled to celebrate the life and works of Andrea Vesalius and remember his death on Zakynthos. This statue is a representation of Vesalius’ style of depicting anatomy in his book “De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem” and is a “muscle man” mixed with the motif of the famous plate 20 of Book 1 that shows a skeleton musing over a skull. The statue also presents the Vesalius family coat of arms. The statue is the work of Richard Neave and Pascalle Pollier.

Pascale Pollier, a biomedical artist specializes in face reconstructions and made a new bust of Vesalius based on the only known portrait of the great anatomist found on the pages of his immortal book “The Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem”.

The statue was unveiled in front of an international crowd of anatomists, medical historians, biomedical artists, and film makers. Following the ceremony a display of artistic works related to Vesalius was opened in the Zakynthos municipality.

These are today the signs of the presence of Vesalius on Zakynthos. We know today that his body is interred in the cemetery of the church of Santa Maria della Grazie in Zakynthos. Sadly this church was destroyed twice in earthquakes and in 1953 was completely demolished along with 85% of the city. It was not rebuilt and now lies under the new, rebuilt city. One of the research papers presented at the 2014 Vesalius Continuum meeting has rediscovered the location of the church with great accuracy. The account of this paper and how I was able to find this geolocation will be presented in another article.

Sources
1. “Andreas Vesalius of Brussels 1514-1564” O’Malley, CD. Los Angeles 1965
2. "Andreas Vesalius; The Making, the Madman, and the Myth" Joffe, SN. Persona Publishing 2009
3. “In Search of Andreas Vesalius – The Quest for the Lost Grave” Dirix, T. Lanoo Campus Belgium 2014

 


 

New Vesalius Statue in Zakynthos 

Bust of Vesalius made by Pascale Pollier

Unveiling of the New Vesalius Statue in Zakynthos

New Vesalius Statue in Zakynthos