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February 5, 1955


JAMA. 1955;157(6):531-532. doi:10.1001/jama.1955.02950230045022

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To the Editor:—  In an article in The Journal, Dec. 26, 1953, page 1512, Dr. Homer W. Smith dealt with the history of comparative kidney physiology. Dr. Smith credits Malpighi with the discovery of the capillary circulation in 1661; on this point there is room for further comment. Writing to Sir Thomas Browne in 1649, some 12 years before Malpighi's communication of 1661, Henry Power (1623-1668) had written about "the minute and capillary channels" between the arteries and veins and, therefore, preceded Malpighi in the completion of Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood (cited by Singer, C.: A History of Biology, New York, Henry Schuman, Inc., Publishers, 1950, p. 150). Malpighi deserves credit, however, for making an independent discovery when he demonstrated the capillary system in the frog lung by injecting water into the pulmonary artery and seeing it issue from the pulmonary vein. With the blood washed

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