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May 11, 1964


JAMA. 1964;188(6):604-606. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060320124029

Galen, the greatest physician between Hippocrates ' of the 5th century, BC, and Vesalius and Harvey of the 16th and 17th centuries, AD, brought to a close the medicine of ancient Greece and in its place introduced experimental physiology. More than 14 centuries were yet to elapse, however, before the modern medical era began. Galen, in the interim, was quoted ad infinitum, but his reputation was not threatened by any competitor, nor were his scientific contributions put to test, expanded, revised, or rejected. Thus, his word carried an authority rivaled only by Hippocrates from ancient to early modern times. No medical scientist approached the stature of Galen until Vesalius, with De Fabrica, provided the first modern treatise on anatomy in 1543, and Harvey established the basis for modern physiology in the discovery of the circulation of blood in 1628. But even in these notable events, the observations were built upon the