Félix Vicq-d'Azyr

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Félix Vicq-d'Azyr
Felix vicq dazyr.jpg
Félix Vicq-d'Azyr
Born (1748-04-23)23 April 1748
Valognes, Normandy
Died 20 June 1794(1794-06-20) (aged 46)
Nationality France
Alma mater University of Paris
Known for comparative anatomy
Scientific career
Fields physician

Félix Vicq d'Azyr (French: [feliks vik daziʁ]; 23 April 1748 – 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 Académie française in 1788. On the outbreak of an epidemic in Guyenne he was charged with writing a report, of making propositions and with their execution. Pursuing an early perception of the responsibility of the State on health affairs, Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot proposed the creation of the Société Royale de Médecine. In 1775, Vicq d'Azyr was made Perpetual Secretary. Under his leadership, the Société compiled over 16 years a great mass of facts and information about diseases, physicians, economics and food resources.

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,[1] the locus niger (substantia nigra) 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 of tuberculosis[2] on 20 June 1794 during The Terror. He had that day attended Robespierre's Festival of the Supreme Being.

A collection of some of his papers is held at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland.[3]


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


  1. ^ Tubbs, RS. (2011). "Félix Vicq d'Azyr (1746-1794) early founder of neuroanatomy and royal French physician". Childs Nerv Syst. 27 (7): 1031–1034. doi:10.1007/s00381-011-1424-y. PMID 21445631. 
  2. ^ Research Gate
  3. ^ "Felix Vicq-d'Azyr Papers 1778-1784". National Library of Medicine. 
  • Stéphane Schmitt (2009). "From Physiology to Classification: Comparative Anatomy and Vicq d’Azyr’s Plan of Reform for Life Sciences and Medicine (1774-1794)," Science in Context, vol. 22 (2), p. 145-193.
  • Mandressi, Rafael (2008). "The past, education and science. Félix Vicq d'Azyr and the history of medicine in the 18th century". Medicina nei secoli. Italy. 20 (1): 183–212. ISSN 0394-9001. PMID 19569416. yes 
  • Parent, André (Feb 2007). "Felix Vicq d'Azyr: anatomy, medicine and revolution". The Canadian journal of neurological sciences. Le journal canadien des sciences neurologiques. Canada. 34 (1): 30–7. ISSN 0317-1671. PMID 17352344. yes 
  • Lemaire, Jean-François (2003). "The Law of 19 Ventôse, year 21 (10 March 1803): fundamental text and provisional expedient". Bull. Acad. Natl. Med. Netherlands. 187 (3): 577–86; discussion 586–9. ISSN 0001-4079. PMID 14556471. yes 
  • Peumery, J J (2001). "[Vicq d'Azyr and the French Revolution]". Histoire des sciences médicales. France. 35 (3): 263–70. ISSN 0440-8888. PMID 11764794. yes 
  • Sournia, J C (Oct 1994). "Felix Vicq d'Azyr, founder of the Academy of Medicine (1748-1794)". Bull. Acad. Natl. Med. FRANCE. 178 (7): 1237–43; discussion 1243–4. ISSN 0001-4079. PMID 7895100. yes 
  • Farrell, P S; McHenry L C (Aug 1987). "Fragments of neurologic history: Felix Vicq d'Azyr and neuroanatomy". Neurology. UNITED STATES. 37 (8): 1349–50. doi:10.1212/wnl.37.8.1349. ISSN 0028-3878. PMID 3302761. yes 
  • ASTRUC, P (1951). "Eulogies delivered by Vicq d'Azyr in the Société Royale de Médecine". Le Progrés médical. Not Available. 79 (15–16): 411–9. ISSN 0033-0450. PMID 14883206. yes 

External links[edit]