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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

Johann Gottfried Zinn

Johann Gottfried Zinn
(1727–1759)

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.

Sources:
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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"Vesalius and the Invention of the Modern Body"

Last week I attended this interdisciplinary symposium hosted by the Saint Louis University and Washington University. This three-day event was inspired by the landmark publication of Andrea Vesalius’s "De humani corporis fabrica, libri septem" (Basel, 1543 and 1555) and the new critical edition and translation of this work, the New Fabrica. Two of the keynote speakers were Daniel Garrison and  Malcolm Hast, authors of the new Fabrica by Karger Publishers. Besides them there were several internationally-renowned speakers, art exhibits, presentation of academic papers of leading research, a public anatomy demonstration, rare books workshops, and a publishers’ exhibit hall.

Because the Fabrica represented a collaborative project involving a scientist (Vesalius), a humanist (Johannes Oporinus, the printer), and an artist (Jan van Kalkar), the goal of the conference was to encourage a network of scholars working in disparate fields to explore the potential for future interdisciplinary research. This objective was clearly attained, as I was able to speak and share with rare books curators, university librarians, artists, anatomist, physicians, poets, historians, etc., all of them brought together by the shared admiration for Andreas Vesalius, his work, his publications, and his legacy.

Vesalius and the Invention of the Modern Body
There were many highlights in this symposium and I will try to cover some of them in a series of articles.  The first one was a presentation by Dr. Stephen N. Joffe, where he described the number of Vesalius' books still in existence in the US and estimates around the world. It was interesting to me that and estimated 600 first edition Fabricas were ever published, and that of those only a fraction exist today, most in university libraries!

Another highlight was the presentation by Pascale Pollier, a Belgian artist, of the Vesalius Continuum project, part of which are the Fabrica Vitae art exhibit that was available to the attendees and the public for the duration of the symposium. Another part of Vesalius Continuum was the meeting in Zakynthos, Greece in 2014. Pascale also presented the process of creation of a bust of Dr. Gunther Von Hagens, the inventor of the system of plastination.

Probably the most rewarding segments of this symposium were the question and answer sessions after each presentation.