Medical Terminology Daily (MTD) is a blog sponsored by Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc. as a service to the medical community, medical students, and the medical industry. We post anatomical, medical or surgical terms, their meaning and usage, as well as biographical notes on anatomists, surgeons, and researchers through the ages. Be warned that some of the images used depict human anatomical specimens.

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A Moment in History

Self-portrait, Henry Vandyke Carter, MD (Public Domain)
Self-portrait, Henry Vandyke Carter, MD (Public Domain)

Henry Vandyke Carter, MD
(1831 – 1897)

English physician, surgeon, medical artist, and a pioneer in leprosy and mycetoma studies.  HV Carter was born in Yorkshire in 1831. He was the son of Henry Barlow Carter, a well-known artist and it is possible that he honed his natural talents with his father. His mother picked his middle name after a famous painter, Anthony Van Dyck. This is probably why his name is sometimes shown as Henry Van Dyke Carter, although the most common presentation of his middle name is Vandyke.

Having problems to finance his medical studies, HV Carter trained as an apothecary and later as an anatomical demonstrator at St. George’s Hospital in London, where he met Henry Gray (1872-1861), who was at the time the anatomical lecturer. Having seen the quality of HV Carter’s drawings, Henry Gray teamed with him to produce one of the most popular and longer-lived anatomy books in history: “Gray’s Anatomy”, which was first published in late 1857.  The book itself, about which many papers have been written, was immediately accepted and praised because of the clarity of the text as well as the incredible drawings of Henry Vandyke Carter.

While working on the book’s drawings, HV Carter continued his studies and received his MD in 1856.

In spite of initially being offered a co-authorship of the book, Dr. Carter was relegated to the position of illustrator by Henry Gray and never saw the royalties that the book could have generated for him. For all his work and dedication, Dr. Carter only received a one-time payment of 150 pounds. Dr.  Carter never worked again with Gray, who died of smallpox only a few years later.

Frustrated, Dr. Carter took the exams for the India Medical Service.  In 1858 he joined as an Assistant Surgeon and later became a professor of anatomy and physiology. Even later he served as a Civil Surgeon. During his tenure with the India Medical Service he attained the ranks of Surgeon, Surgeon-Major, Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel, and Brigade-Surgeon.

Dr. Carter dedicated the rest of his life to the study of leprosy, and other ailments typical of India at that time. He held several important offices, including that of Dean of the Medical School of the University of Bombay. In 1890, after his retirement, he was appointed Honorary Physician to the Queen.

Dr. Henry Vandyke Carter died of tuberculosis in 1897.

Personal note: Had history been different, this famous book would have been called “Gray and Carter’s Anatomy” and Dr. Carter never gone to India. His legacy is still seen in the images of the thousands of copies of “Gray’s Anatomy” throughout the world and the many reproductions of his work available on the Internet. We are proud to use some of his images in this blog. The image accompanying this article is a self-portrait of Dr. Carter. Click on the image for a larger depiction. Dr. Miranda

1. “Obituary: Henry Vandyke Carter” Br Med J (1897);1:1256-7
2. “The Anatomist: A True Story of ‘Gray’s Anatomy” Hayes W. (2007) USA: Ballantine
3. “A Glimpse of Our Past: Henry Gray’s Anatomy” Pearce, JMS. J Clin Anat (2009) 22:291–295
4. “Henry Gray and Henry Vandyke Carter: Creators of a famous textbook” Roberts S. J Med Biogr (2000) 8:206–212.
5. “Henry Vandyke Carter and his meritorious works in India” Tappa, DM et al. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol (2011) 77:101-3

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William Harvey

This article is part of the series "A Moment in History" where we honor those who have contributed to the growth of medical knowledge in the areas of anatomy, medicine, surgery, and medical research.To search all the articles in this series, click here.

William Harvey (1578 - 1609) English physician, physiologist, and anatomist. He was born in Folklestone, where his  father was the mayor.

Harvey studied at the King’s College in Canterbury, after which he entered Cambridge. He later traveled through France and Italy and continued his studies in Padua, where he graduated with an MD in 1602. He later returned to Cambridge to complete his Doctoral studies.

He became the Physician-In-Charge at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.  It was at this time that he started a long process of scientific observation and logical reasoning that led him to postulate the circulation of the blood in his 1628 publication  "Excercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus"  (Anatomical Exercises on the Movement of the Heart and the Blood in Animals).

Harvey’s publication caused incredible controversy, as his proposed theory went against Galen’s theories and the idea that blood passed through "invisible pores" from the right to the left atrium of the heart. His main problem was that he could not prove the presence of capillaries, which were not observed until Antoine van Leeuwenhoek invented the microscope in the late 1600's.

William Harvey
In his book Harvey states ''It is absolutely necessary to conclude that the blood in the animal body is impelled as in a circle and is in a state of ceaseless motion: that this is the act or function which the heart performs by means of the pulse, and that it is the sole and only end of the motion and contraction of the heart”. Even today there are many that use the term “circulatory system” without realizing that the meaning “as in a circle” coined by William Harvey is present in it.

Although the first to consider the term “circulation” was Michael Servetus (1511 – 1553), his ideas were not completely evolved. Had he completed his research and studies Servetus could have precluded Harvey, but he was considered a heretic and burnt at the stake. Thankfully, Harvey was not!  

1. "William Harvey"Billimoria, A.  J Assoc Phys 60 (2012) 57
2.  “William Harvey” Foucar, HO. Can Med Assoc J 1951; 64(5): 452–453.
3. “William Harvey” McKecnie, EDJ, Robertson, C.  Resuscitation 55 (2002) 133-136
4. “William Harvey, an Aristotelian anatomist” Fara, P. Endeavour 21:2 (2007) 43–44
5. “The life and work of William Harvey” Keele, KD Endeavour 2:3 (1978) 104–107
Original image courtesy of: nlm.nih.gov

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