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April 23, 1960


JAMA. 1960;172(17):1938-1939. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03020170064015

Jean Francois Fernel (L., Ioannis Fernelii), born in the purlieus of Paris in 1485 A. D., was one of the remarkable scientists of the 16th century. If Galen is credited with the earliest treatise on human physiology, Fernel rediscovered this discipline 13 centuries later. Fernel also prepared a treatise on pathology. A presentation of the clinical findings in a patient with acute appendicitis and a description of the postmortem examination preceded the modern description by Reginald Fitz by more than three hundred years. As a clinician, Fernel used the term lues venera for the first time to describe clinical syphilis. A very readable biography of Fernel was written by Guillaume Plancey, for 10 years his associate, who lived in his home and thereby experienced an unusual opportunity to write of his master from intimate contact. The biography by Plancey and other Ferneliana was compiled by Sir Charles S. Sherrington1

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