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Johann Wesling

(Minden, 1598- Padua, 30.8.1649)

Wesling studied medicine at the University of Leiden between 1620 and 1622 and studied botany further under the guidance of Aelius Everhardus Vorstius.
A year later, he was registered as a student at the University of Groningen and, in 1625, he came to Padua where he enrolled at the University on 24th June in the natio Germanica artistarum. He graduated the year after in philosophy and medicine.

After attending the demonstrations of anatomy held by Fabrizio Bartoletti in Mantua between 1626 and 1627, he was himself appointed to carry out the annual demonstration of anatomy at Venice’s College of Doctors, which was held between 31st January and 28th February 1628, attracting an extraordinary number of spectators.

He travelled to Egypt and Jerusalem as doctor to the Venetian consul and, in 1632, he was awarded the professorship of anatomy and surgery at the University of Padova. In 1638, he was appointed prefect of the Botanical garden and professor in charge of describing the medicinal plants growing there. His contribution to the botanical garden can above all be seen in the importance of numerous exotic plants, the publication of a new edition of “De plantis Aegypti” by Prospero Alpini and two catalogues of plants grown in the botanical garden (1642 and 1644).

His research in the field of anatomy culminated in the publication of his manual of anatomy “Syntagma anatomicum”(1641), which became widespread throughout Europe and was translated into a number of languages. This manual included one of the first descriptions of the human lymphatic system and the Willis polygon. His studies of embryology and animal anatomy (viper, crocodile, hyena), his initial observations of the thoracic duct and his adoption of the blood circulation theory are contained in his “Observationes anatomicae et epistolae medicae” (1664), published by Thomas Bartholin after his death.