Born Today – Franciscus Sylvius

From Today in Science History:

Franciscus Sylvius and his Wife
Franciscus Sylvius and his Wife

Franciscus Sylvius, born 15 Mar 1614; died 19 Nov 1672 . Dutch (but German born) physician, chemist and physiologist who was the founder of the seventeenth century’s “iatrochemical school of medicine,” which related living processes to chemical reactions. Thus, Sylvius helped move medicine away from mysticism (with its “humours” of blood, phlegm and biles) and towards an approach based in physics and chemistry. Sylvius strongly supported Harvey‘s view of blood circulation, and viewed the body chemistry as a balance between base and acids, capable of neutralizing each other. Sylvius and his followers studied the digestive juices, with which they recognized saliva, and viewed digestion as a kind of fermenting process. He may also have organized the first university chemistry laboratory.

Sylvius’s students at the University of Leiden included Jan Swammerdam, Reinier de Graaf, Niels Stensen and Burchard de Volder.

The Legacy of Reinier de Graaf

Reinier de Graaf
Reinier de Graaf

It has been sometime since I have posted – recent changes in my life situation have left me somewhat pre-occupied. For now here is a link to a paper on Reinier de Graaf, the doctor who first introduced Leeuwenhoek to the Royal Society in London:

In the second half of the 17th century, a young Dutch physician and anatomist left a lasting legacy in medicine. Reinier (also spelled Regner and Regnier) de Graaf (1641–1673), in a short but extremely productive life, made remarkable contributions to medicine. He unraveled the mysteries of the human reproductive system, and his name remains irrevocably associated with the ovarian follicle.

De Graaf was born in Schoonhaven, Holland. After studying in Utrecht, Holland, De Graaf started at the famous Leiden University. As a student, De Graaf helped Johannes van Horne in the preparation of anatomical specimens. He became known for using a syringe to inject liquids and wax into blood vessels. At Leiden, he also studied under the legendary Franciscus Sylvius.

See The Legacy of Reinier de Graaf by Venita Jay, MD, FRCPC, for the complete paper.

(Image from Wikipedia Commons)

Born Today – Hermann Boerhaave

From  Today in Science HistoryHermann Boerhaave:

Hermann Boerhaave, born 31 Dec 1668; died 23 Sep 1738

Dutch physician and professor of medicine who was the first great clinical, or “bedside,” teacher. To combine practice with theory, Boerhaave founded a hospital in which he gave clinical instruction to his pupils, thus introducing the clinical method into medical education. In 1718 he became professor of chemistry, and in 1724 he published Elementa Chemiae (Elements of Chemistry), a work that did much to make the science of chemistry clear and intelligible. He also made contributions in the field of botany.

‘Matters of Exchange’ wins Excellence Award.

Matters of Exchange
Matters of Exchange

Harold J. Cook, author of Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age has won a $10 000 “Recognition of Excellence” award. This was at the inaugural competition for The Cundill International Prize in History at McGill University which was established in April by McGill alumnus and investment manager Peter Cundill. The main prize went to Stuart B. Schwartz, author of All Can Be Saved: Religious Tolerance and Salvation in the Iberian Atlantic World. A second “Recognition of Excellence” award went to Peter Fritzsche for Life and Death in the Third Reich.

Read more about the awards at McGill.

See details of the books in the Cundill Prize shortlist.