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Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694)

During the 17th century, Marcello Malpighi introduced microscopy to medicine, discovered capillaries (among many other things), and offended his learned peers.  

In 1689, in the awesome presence of ecclesiastical dignitaries, a full-scale formal indictment was pronounced on Malpighi at Rome...  Four theses, devised and defended by one of his own students, condemned Malpighi's rash work and pronounced it all useless.  First, ... "It is our firm opinion that the anatomy of the exceedingly small, internal conformation of the viscera, which has been extolled in these very times, is of use to no physician."  

Daniel J. Boorstin, The Discoverers, Vintage Books 1985, p. 382.

In addition to rejecting microscopy as worthless, the indictment's next three theses declared Malpighi's assertions about capillaries to be untrue, comparative anatomy to be irrelevant to medicine, and human anatomy to be useful only for description.

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Comments and questions:

SIUC / School of Medicine / Anatomy / David King
Last updated:  15 October 2021 / dgk