Who was Galen?
Anatomist, physiologist, clinician and researcher, Galen is the father of modern medicine and pharmacology, and his work has been considered as a reference for over two millenniums.Galen was born in AD 131 in Pergamos. He studied in Smyrna, Corinth and Alexandria, the three centres of medical excellence in the ancient world. According to a legend, Galen would have seen Aesclapius in a dream and this dream inspired and directed the rest of his life.
When he turned 17, Galen worked as a physician at a gladiators’ training centre. Marcus Aurelius requested him to come to Rome when he was 37 and living in Aquila. In Rome, he grew in reputation and stature as a healer, teacher, researcher and writer. His ideas on the functioning of the human body were so well received that he became the personal doctor of young Commodus, the Emperor’s heir. Galen died in AD 201. During his long and eminent life, Galen completed over five hundred pieces of work relating to anatomy, physiology, pathology, medical theory and practice and many forms of therapy. His work formed the basis of the school of thought known as ‘Galenism’ which dominated medical thinking until the Renaissance. He travelled for a period of time throughout the world, studying local plants and remedies. He described 473 original drugs and many substances from mineral and vegetal origin. He was the first scientist to codify the art to prepare active drugs with ingredients and vehicles.
His faculties of observation, logic and deduction made him the true successor to Hippocrates and his view that the prime aim of medicine is patient care has formed the very cornerstone of modern pharmacy.