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Félix Vicq-d'Azyr

Félix Vicq-d'Azyr
Born 23 April 1746
Valognes, Normandy
Died 20 June 1794
Nationality France
Fields physician
Alma mater University of Paris
Known for comparative anatomy

Félix Vicq d'Azyr (23 April 1746 - 20 June 1794) was a French physician and anatomist, the originator of comparative anatomy and discoverer of the theory of homology in biology.



Vicq d'Azyr was born in Valognes, Normandy, the son of a physician. He graduated in medicine at the University of Paris and became a renowned and brilliant animal and human anatomist and physician.

From 1773 Vicq d'Azyr taught a celebrated course of anatomy at the Jardin du Roi, currently the Museum of Natural History, in Paris. In 1774 he was elected a member of the Académie des Sciences with the support of his friend Condorcet, the Perpetual Secretary. In this latter capacity, he was in charge of writing the eulogies of his colleagues. This he accomplished with great talent, thus winning a lifetime membership to the French Academy in 1788. On the outbreak of an epidemic in Guyenne he was charged with writing a report, of making propositions and with their execution. In order to pursue what appeared as the first perception of the responsibility of the State on health affairs, Turgot proposed the creation of the Société Royale de Médecine. In 1775 he was nominated Perpetual Secretary . In this capacity, the Société compiled over 16 years a great mass of facts and information about diseases, physicians, economics and food resources, etc.

He was the last physician of Queen Marie-Antoinette, whom he tried to protect. Additionally he was a professor of veterinary medicine at the School of Alfort, as well as Superintendent of epidemics.

As an anatomist he was one of the first to use coronal sections of the brain and to use alcohol to aid dissection. He described the locus coeruleus, the locus niger in the brain, in 1786, and the band of Vicq d'Azyr, a fiber system between the external granular layer and the external pyramidal layer of the cerebral cortex, as well as the mamillo-thalamic tract, which bears his name. His systematic studies of the cerebral convolutions became a classic and Vicq d'Azyr was one of the first neuroanatomists to name the gyri. He studied the deep gray nuclei of the cerebrum and the basal ganglia. He participated in the Second Encyclopedia.

Vicq d'Azyr died from uncertain causes on June 20, 1794 during The Terror.


  • Éloges
  • Mémoires sur l'Anatomie Humaine et Comparée
  • Traité d'Anatomie et de Physiologie
  • Système Anatomique des Quadrupèdes


External links



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