, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 189-191
Date: 10 Feb 2009

Reinier De Graaf (1641–1673) and the Graafian follicle

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The name of this seventeenth century Dutch physician remains eponymously linked to the (ripe) ovarian follicle. De Graaf earned his spurs as anatomist and experimental physiologist. However, it was his pioneering work on reproduction that secured him lasting fame within the pantheon of medical history.

Reinier De Graaf was born on 30 July 1641 in Schoonhoven, the son of a Roman Catholic architect [13] (Fig. 1). He started his medical studies at the University of Louvain under Plempius (1601–1671), the ‘Primarius’ professor of practical medicine with the sonorous first names of Vopiscus Fortunatus. The man ‘was born with a caul’. In 1660, Reinier De Graaf continued his studies in Utrecht where Ysbrand van Diemerbroeck (1609–1674) instructed him in anatomy. Three years later, he registered as a student at the University of Leiden. There, he received his inspiration from Franciscus dele Boë Sylvius (1614–1672), the standard bearer for the iatrochemical school that held the belief that all

This article was originally published in Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde. The English version is printed by permission of Prof. Dr. J. Lauweryns, Editor-in-Chief. Life Leuven is acknowledged for the translation.