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Biography William Harvey



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It is thanks to the contributions of William Harvey, alias the ''the discoverer of the Circulation of Blood'' that today we are able to fully understand the dynamics behind the life sustaining function of the heart and the delivery of oxygen rich blood to all our cells. His passion and fascination for the human body has led him to immortality, as still as of today, his studies and books are read and appreciated by students and professors from all over the world.

William Harvey was born on April 1st 1578 in Folkestone, Kent, England . He was the eldest son amongst five brothers. At the age of ten he was introduced to both Latin and Greek languages when attending grammar school. His passion for medicine was awarded when at the early age of sixteen he won a medical scholarship to the Gonville and Caius College of Cambridge where he graduated with a bachelor degree of Arts in 1597.

He further expanded his knowledge by attending the prestigious Italian University of Padua, where five years later at 24 years old he was pronounced ''doctor of physics''. While attending this University, Harvey was influenced by his teacher's claims of blood vessels having one way valves. He further investigated how these valves functioned bringing to light their not yet fully understood dynamics.

After graduating, Harvey returned to England where he married Elizabeth Browne, daughter to the physician of her highness, Queen Elizabeth I. Harvey at this point, started working as a physician at the St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London where he practiced for many years. At the age of 37 he was given the opportunity to deliver lectures at the College of Physicians where he was recognized for his studies on the human circulation.

His vivid interest in anatomy guided him into making profound studies by dissecting animals. These studies inspired him to publish his findings in his book ''An Anatomical Exercise of the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals''. These same studies enticed him to clash against the well established theory made by Galen at that time, where it was believed that dark red blood was produced by the liver.

Harvey was recognized and appreciated for his methodical application of studies which were referred to as the ''the scientific method''. He would not report the results of his studies until they could be proved through his experiments conducted by dissecting animals and the bodies of executed criminals.

When Queen Elizabeth I passed on to better life, Harvey was appointed as the physician of her son, royal highness, James I. Later he also became the choice physican for King Charles I when he went up to throne.

In 1651, Harvey also pursued to commence embryonic studies where he claimed that animals were not spontaneously created but that rather they originated from the union of sperm and egg. His findings were proved only 200 years later whe the first microscopes were able to detect the first eggs produced by mammals.

William Harvey died June 3, 1657 after repeated attacks of gout. Many of his studies may be appreciated today at the British Museum.

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