Research Article: The Heart of Medicine

Date Published: December 13, 2005

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Paul W Glimcher

Abstract: In De Motu Cordis, William Harvey described the circulation of the blood and, in the process, built the first comprehensive biomedical theory on an experimental base.

Partial Text: In the early 16th century the practice of medicine and the discipline of physiology bore almost no relation to the sciences we know today. Medieval scholasticism had entrenched the writings of ancient authors as the arbiters of truth and almost completely suppressed novel inquiry in the biological sciences. The result of this entrenchment was that in European biomedical centers like the Universities of Bologna, Padua, or Montpellier, the writings of ancient medical authors were taught as fact. Direct observations on tissue, and hypothesis-testing experiments of the type routinely performed today, were essentially unknown.