Frederik Ruysch (1638-1731): Historical perspective and contemporary analysis of his teratological legacy
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SourceAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics. Part A, 173, 1, (2017), pp. 16-41
Article / Letter to editor
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American Journal of Medical Genetics. Part A
SubjectRadboudumc 0: Other Research DCMN: Donders Center for Medical Neuroscience
The Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) in Saint Petersburg is the oldest museum in Russia. It keeps the remains of the anatomical collection of the world-famous 17th century Dutch anatomist Frederik Ruysch. This unique collection was bought and shipped in 1717 by Czar Peter the Great, and presently still comprises more than 900 specimens, a modest number of which concerns specimens with congenital anomalies. We searched for teratological clues in the existing collection and in all his descriptions and correspondence regarding specimens and cases he encountered during his career as doctor anatomiae and chief instructor of the surgeons and midwives in Amsterdam. A total of 63 teratological specimens and case descriptions were identified in this legacy, including some exceedingly rare anomalies. As it turns out, Ruysch was the first to describe several of the conditions we encountered, including intracranial teratoma, enchondromatosis, and Majewski syndrome. Although his comments pose an interesting view on how congenital anomalies were scientifically perceived in early 18th century Europe, Ruysch mostly refrained from explaining the causes of the conditions he encountered. Instead, he dedicated himself to careful descriptions of his specimens. Almost 300 years after his demise, Ruysch's legacy still impresses and inspires both scientists and lay men. (c) 2016 The Authors. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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