OHSU

The Fabrica of Andreas Vesalius: The Father of Modern Anatomy and His Most Famous Work

Andreas Vesalius was a Belgian born anatomist and physician, born in 1514 into a family of physicians. He is considered the father of modern anatomy and his work the beginning of modern medicine. In 1543, at the young age of 29, Vesalius published his most important work, De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem (Seven Books on the Fabric of the Human Body), generally known as the Fabrica.

 

The Fabrica is the most famous anatomy book ever written and also the first book on human anatomy to be reasonably accurate. The Fabrica is famous for its illustrations. They were most likely created by Jan Stephan van Calcar, a student of Titian who worked with Vesalius. In 1555 a second edition was issued. This edition featured some corrections and additions, some revamped illustrations, and an improved section on embryology. A copy of this edition was donated by Norman J. Holter, a former OHSU student and inventor of the Holter monitor, which measures heartbeat and respiration. Holter attended OHSU for one year, 1956, and in 1980 donated a copy of the Fabrica in appreciation of several faculty members and the admissions committee, for admitting him to medical school even though he was over 40 years old.