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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' New Fabrica

Andreas Vesalius opus magnus was the creation and the publication of his book “De Humani Corporis Fabrica, Libri Septem" (Seven books on the structure of the human body). This book was published on May 26th, 1543 by the printing press of Johannes Oporinus.

Much has been said and written about this book and the influence of Vesalius’ work on scientific thinking, the scientific method, and the displacement of dogmatic thinking based on the works of the ancient Greeks and Galen of Pergamon (129AD - 200AD) for a different view of the construction of the body based on direct and empirical observation.

Unfortunately, because of Vesalius’ following of Erasmus’ teachings on Latin, the book was written in a very difficult and circumvoluted language which made it difficult to understand. In addition, the book was very expensive for the times, with an estimated maximum printing of 600 copies. Were it not for the images and the captions, as well as the many plagiarized versions of the Fabrica in different languages, Vesalius opus magnus would have been lost to history. Harvey Cushing wrote in his Vesalius bio-bibliography of 1943:”As a book, the Fabrica has been probably more admired and less read than any publication of equal significance in the history of science”.

Although several attempts have been done to translate the Fabrica, most of the works have been incomplete, or have tried to paraphrase or correct Vesalius’ words, leaving us with a watered-down image of the author and his intent.

In 1993 Drs. Daniel H Garrison and Malcom H. Hast began a collaboration to translate the Fabrica of Vesalius. The 20- year story of how they obtained federal grants, discussed the translation, found a publisher, scanned and improved on the original images of the Fabrica, and how they even worked with Christian Mengelt to create a new typography for an annotated new Fabrica, was part of their presentation on the interdisciplinary symposium “Vesalius and the Invention of the Modern Body” hosted by the St. Louis University and the Washington University February 26-28, 2015.

Drs. Hast and Garrison with the two volumes of the new Fabrica
Drs. Hast, Miranda, and Garrison with the  new Fabrica
Title pages of the new Fabrica with the authors' signatures
This annotated new Fabrica is a translation of the 1543 first edition with comments on the 1555 second edition and it also includes passages and comments from a heavily edited 1555 second edition that has side margins comments and corrections now certified to be in Vesalius’ own handwriting. This book has been speculated to have been Vesalius’ personal copy and probably the basis of a potential third edition. This particular book is now known as "Vesalius' Annotated Fabrica"

The "New Fabrica" was published in 2014 by Karger Publishing, a company based in Basel, Switzerland, the same city where the original Fabrica was published in 1543. The ISBN is 978-3-318-02246-9. Only 948 books were published and it has now been sold out. Because of the demand, an original is now considered a rare book.

Daniel H. Garrison received his degrees from Harvard (A.B. Classics, 1959) and Berkeley (PhD Comparative Literature, 1968). He was a member of the Classics Department at Northwestern University from 1966 until his retirement in 2010. 

Malcolm H. Hast is Professor Emeritus of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery – and also past Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology (Anatomy) at Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University. He is Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science as well as Fellow of the Anatomical Society (UK) and a Chartered Biologist and Fellow of the Society of Biology (UK). He is also a recipient of The Gould International Award in Laryngology and a NATO Senior Fellowship in Science.

Personal note: I am honored to have met both Drs. Garrison and Hast at the symposium, shared some of the stories behind the new Fabrica and have them sign my own copy of this incredible book. Dr. Miranda

Sources:
1. "A Bio-blibliography of Andreas Vesalius" Cushung, H. 1943 Saunders