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July 21, 1969

Francis Home (1719-1813) Practitioner of Experimental Medicine

JAMA. 1969;209(3):412-413. doi:10.1001/jama.1969.03160160048017

Francis Home was born in Berwickshire, Scotland, the son of an advocate. He is recognized as a forerunner of the experimental approach to medicine, which was not firmly established in England until a century later.1 Home's early training in medicine came through an apprenticeship to Rattray, a practitioner in Edinburgh. At the age of 23, without having qualified for the MD degree, he was appointed military surgeon to a British regiment.

He served on the Continent during the campaigns of the Austrian Succession and remained with the English forces until peace was signed in 1748. Meanwhile, he exploited the seven years of intermittent warfare for professional advancement. In Flanders, Home studied at Leyden, still under the influence of Boerhaave, where he absorbed the spirit of critical clinical observation at the bedside. He systematically tabulated the epidemiological findings among the troops of the epidemic fever in 1847, studied an epizootic