BornMontdidier (Somme), France, circa1497
Although Jean-François Fernel had an early interest in and studied astronomy, writing several papers on the size and behavior of the Earth, he soon turned his back on astronomy to pursue his main interests – physiology and medicine.
Fernel was the son of a furrier and innkeeper. After schooling at Claremont, Fernel studied mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy at the College de Sainte Barbe, Paris. He received his MA at the age of 22 and completed his medical training at the University of Paris, where he obtained his MD in 1530.
Often referred to as “The Father of Pathology,” Fernel was considered to be one of the greatest physicians of the Renaissance and wrote a number of books that remained in use long after his death. In 1554 Fernel published Medicina, his most important work, a systematic survey of what was then known about human disease. Two years later Fernel became a physician to the court of Henry II and was given the position of “physician in chief” to the Dauphin. He died of fever.