Alum donates 1500s anatomy book to BCM
May 1, 2012
The DeBakey Museum and Library at BCM is the new home for De humani corporis fabrica (On the Structure of the Human Body), an anatomy text dating back to the 1500s.
The book was donated by Dr. O. Howard "Bud" Frazier and his wife, Rachel, and presented to BCM April 20 during Alumni Weekend. Frazier is a 1967 alumnus of Baylor College of Medicine and professor of surgery at BCM.
Frazier and Dr. Paul Klotman unveiled the book, which is now on permanent display at the DeBakey Museum. BCM faculty, staff and trainees are welcome to visit the library to view the text.
Authored by Flemish anatomist and physician Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), the book was first published in 1543.
According to Dr. Bill Butler, chancellor emeritus at BCM, the anatomy book was the first that was based on human anatomical dissection.
"It was really the first attempt to scientifically describe the human body. Literally, Vesalius became the father of modern anatomy," Butler said.
Butler noted that Dr. Michael DeBakey used to give a presentation that included a slide of Andreas Vesalius – an indication of Vesalius' importance to modern medicine.
Vesalius was a lecturer on surgery and anatomy at the University of Padua, where he emphasized dissection and insisted on performing his own dissections.
The book in the library is a second edition published in 1555. It includes important revisions, such as the description of the vein valves that remained undiscovered until 1546 when they were described to Vesalius by Italian physician Gianbattista Canano.
Interestingly, the original wood blocks used to print the book burned in 1943 during the World War II bombing of Munich.