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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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Incredible and exciting good news!!!

Friends of Medical Terminology Daily:

As you know, we are part of an incredible quest to find the body of Andreas Vesalius, recognized worldwide as the Father of Modern Anatomy. His life and the story and legends about his death are part now of scientific fact and folklore.

The quest for the lost grave of Andreas Vesalius has been published in this blog several times. Many of the members of this group, such as Pascale Pollier, Theo Dirix, Dr. Sylvianne Déderix, Dr. Maurits Biesbrouck, etc. are contributors to Medical Terminology Daily.

The project has had several stages and you are welcome to follow the above links to the authors to read their contributions which clarify the scope and objectives of this quest, including Theo Dirix's article : "To put it in another way: where do we have to look for Vesalius's grave?"

Wax bust of Andreas Vesalius by Pascale Pollier Wax bust of Andreas Vesalius by Pascale Pollier. Click on the image for a larger depiction

The project next step is to perform a detailed research on the area where we suspect (actually know with a high degree of certainty) where the cemetery of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie used to be.

The problem was to obtain the permits to do the non-invasive radar scan of the grounds in the area... and this is the exciting news! Following is the press release:

"The Belgian School of Archaeology)in Athens (EBSA) just obtained the permission for a new archaeological project at Zakynthos in collaboration with the local Ephorate and Dr Merkouri, as well as the IMS in Rethymnon (Dr A. Sarris). The project, initiated and coordinated by Theo Dirix and Pascale Pollier, concerns the quest for the tomb of the Belgian anatomist, father of modern anatomy, Andreas Vesalius who died and was buried in the island."

Needless to say, we are all excited. Now we have to fund this research, and you can all help by contributing as little or as much as you can to the GoFundMe page. We are very close to our objective and this will allow us to pay the permits, rent the equipment and finally get a little closer to finding Andreas Vesalius.

Original photograph of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Zakynthos, Greece Original photograph of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Zakynthos, Greece. Click on the image for a larger depiction

Personal note: Click on the following link to collaborate with this incredible quest. I already did. Dr. Miranda


GoFundMe Campaign for the next stage of the project