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The Life of The Foremost Anatomist William Harvey
Devis Sarah Ekua, student of the 2nd course
Scientific supervisor - L.G. Sulim
Sumy State University, Human anatomy chair
William Harvey was born in 1578 in Kent, England. He was a voracious student, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1597 from Cambridge University. He continued his schooling at the University of Padua, the foremost medical school of the time, where he studied under the esteemed scientist and surgeon , Hieronymus Fabricius. Harvey graduated with honors in 1602 and returned to England where he earned yet another medical degree from Cambridge University. He then settled doun to begin practicing medicine. Harvey was fascinated by the way blood flowed through the human body. Most people of the day believed that food was converted into blood by the liver. Harvey knew this was untrue through his firsthand observations of human and animal dissections. In 1628 Harvey published “EXERCITATIO ANATOMYCA DE MOTU CORDIS ET SANGUINIS IN ANIMALIBUS’, which explained how blood was pumped from the heart throughout the body, then returned to the heart and recirculated. Harvey’s elucidation of blood circulation overturned the work of Galen and advanced that of A. Vesalius and Fabricius. It clarified the function of heart valves, proved that blood did not pass through the septum in the heart, explained the purpose of valves in the veins and of the pulmonary circulation, showed that blood is pumped from the atria into the ventricles and then into the rest of the circulatory system, and proved that the pulse reflected heart contractions.The views this book expressed were very controversial and lost Harvey many patients, but it became the basis for all modern research on the heart and bloob vessels.
A second ground-breaking book published by Harvey in 1651, ‘ESSEYS ON THE GENERATION OF ANIMALS’, is considered the basis for modern embryology. He speculated that humans and other mammals must reproduce through the joining of an egg and sperm. It was 200 years before a mammals egg was finaly observed, but Harvey’s theory was so compelling and so well thought out that the world assumed he was right long before the discovery was finaly made. Harvey was doctor to King Charles 1 of England and was appointed doctor of physic at Oxford. Harvey’s medical and scientific genius were celebrated throughout the European medical community diploma, he was appointed to St. Bartholemew’s Hospital (1609).
Until the early 17th century Claudius Galen’s books were still being used in some medical schools and Galen’s explanation of the heart was still preferred by most doctors. It was William Harvey who proved that Galen was wrong and so made one of the most famous of medical discoveries.
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