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April 10, 1981

Discovering the Human Body: How Pioneers of Medicine Solved the Mysteries of the Body's Structure and Function

JAMA. 1981;245(14):1476-1477. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310390074035

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


"Medical history," as the distinguished historian Henry Sigerist once wrote, "teaches us where we come from, where we stand in medicine at the present time, and in what direction we are marching." Many have documented this fascinating journey, usually in a biographical form, or by historical sequence or social context. Dr Knight approaches it as a sleuth, discovering "How pioneers of medicine solved the mysteries of the body's structure and function." His skills as a forensic pathologist and author (in addition to textbooks, he has published historical fiction and six detective novels) are well suited to the task. In less than 200 fluently written, lavishly illustrated, and amply indexed pages, he has given us a unique account of how the human body was "discovered."

The format is a system-oriented tour of medical history, showing how discoveries were made and after whom they were named. The histories of anatomy and physiology