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Galen

anatomy physiology medical human

[gay len] (129–199) Roman physician, anatomist and physiologist: his ideas on human anatomy and physiology were taught for 15 centuries.

Born in Pergamon (now in Western Turkey) Galen began studying medicine early; at 21 he went to Smyrna to study anatomy and later to Asia Minor to study drugs; later still he visited Alexandria where he examined a human skeleton. In his time human dissection was no longer carried out (although Galen may have done some) and his practical anatomy and physiology was based in part on his work on animals, including the Rhesus monkey. His lifetime coincided with a high point in the success of the Roman Empire and the army had its medical service; but science did not flourish in Rome and Galen’s interest in medical science was unusual. He had a large practice in Rome and was physician to four successive emperors. His extensive writing was partly based on the ideas of , and he added his own results and theories. His descriptions of the anatomy of the muscular system are excellent and his studies on the physiology of the spinal cord and the effects of injury at various levels were a major advance. In his mind, every organ and all its parts have been formed for a purpose, and he theorizes at length on this. However, most of his physiological theories were erroneous and, like others of his time, he had no knowledge of the circulation of the blood. He was fully aware of the existing medical experience and theory, he was highly industrious and his authority was very long-lived.

Galileo (Galilei) [next] [back] Galán, Nely - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: Nely Galán, Social and Economic Impact

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