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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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Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle

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.

Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle (1809 -1885) German physician, anatomist, histologist, and physiologist. Born in  the city F?rth, Henle entered the University of Bonn and studied anatomy with Johannes Muller (1801 – 1859), a professor of anatomy and histology. Henle dedicated his efforts to scientific research, and became the managing editor of the journal “Archives of Anatomy, Physiology, and Scientific Medicine” founded by Muller.

Henle’s career in Berlin suffered after he was arrested for 40 days in jail, because of his past membership in a radical liberal and nationalistic student fraternity, the Burschenschaften. He transferred from Berlin to Zurich where he founded the School of Rational Medicine.

Among his publications, the “Allgemeine Anatomie “(1841) is considered the first treatise on microscopic histology. Also, his book “Handbuch der systematischen Anatomie des Menschen” (Handbook of Human Systematic Anatomy) is a great anatomy book with good illustrations.

Henle moved from Zurich to Heidelberg, and from there to G?ttingen, where he accepted the position of Professor of Anatomy. He stayed at G?ttingen until his death in 1885.

Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle
Original image courtesy of ihm.nlm.nih.gov/
Henle’s many remembered contributions are mostly in the area of histology. His name is found in many eponyms. The eponym most associated with his name is “Henle’s loop”, part of the tubular component of a nephron.

• Crypts of Henle: Microscopic pockets located in the conjunctiva of the eye
• Henle's fissure: Fibrous tissue between the cardiac muscle fibers.
• Henle's ampulla: Ampulla of the uterine (Fallopian) tube
• Henle's layer: Outer layer of cells of root sheath of a hair follicle.
• Henle's ligament (tendon): Tendon of the transversus abdominis muscle.
• Henle's membrane: The layer forming the inner boundary of the choroid of the eye

1. "The Origin of Medical Terms" Skinner, HA 1970 Hafner Publishing Co.
2. “The Man Behind the Eponym Jacob Henle: Henle’s Layer of the Internal Root Sheath” Steffen C. Am J Dermatopath (2001) 23(6): 549–551
3. “The life of Jacob Henle” Robinson A Medical Life Co. 1921

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