Thomas Willis was a well-known physician who pioneered research into the anatomy of the human body, particularly the brain. Born into aristocracy, his family faced a lot of opposition during the British Civil War, and they lost a lot of ancestral property that the Parliament acquired. During the reign of Charles I of England, he even acted as a physician to the royal family. Following the war, he established his clinic in London’s Westminster district and began studying anatomy. In comparison to previous investigations, his pioneering works in neurophysiology were extremely detailed. He even looked into the causes and effects of convulsive illnesses like epilepsy, and his discoveries ushered in a new age in mental care. He studied diabetes mellitus extensively, focusing on metabolic illnesses; he was the one who termed the disease mellitus. His knowledge of human brain architecture is demonstrated in a study he wrote about the ‘Circle of Willis,’ which depicts blood flow in the brain. The pioneering scientist worked to the end of his life and was well-liked by his peers. Continue reading to learn more about his life and work.
Childhood and Adolescence
Thomas Willis was born on January 27, 1621, in the Wiltshire County village of Great Bedwyn. His father worked as a hostess for the Willys of Fen Ditton baronetcy. He earned his bachelor’s degree in arts from ‘Christ Church’ college, which is linked with ‘Oxford University,’ in 1639, and his master’s degree three years later. After successfully completing the course in 1646, he went on to study medicine and got a bachelor’s degree in medicine.
Career of Thomas Willis
Thomas began his medical practice in Abingdon’s market town, and in 1656, he published his first work on medicine, titled ‘De Fermentatione.’ It was three years later that another notable composition, ‘De Febribus,’ was released. During this time, he was helped by natural philosopher Robert Hooke.
In 1600, he was named the ‘Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy’ at Oxford University’s ‘Mathematical Institute,’ a position he would maintain for the remainder of his life. The next year, he joined the newly formed ‘Royal Society of London.’
‘Diatribae duae medico-philosophicae – quarum prior agit de fermentatione’ was his second book, published in 1663. One of his key works on the anatomy of the human brain, ‘Cerebri anatome,’ was released the following year. Christopher Wren provided the book’s diagrams, and Willis made numerous notable observations throughout the book.
In 1666, he opened his business in London’s Westminster district. He used to integrate his understanding of human anatomy with conventional remedial procedures to treat his patients as a physician. Willis’ most important contribution to our understanding of the architecture of the human brain was the discovery of the ‘Circle of Willis,’ a connection between arteries that provide blood to the brain.
This trailblazing scientist then set out to research the physiology of the nervous system, particularly the brain, as well as the causes of numerous mental diseases. He researched disorders such as epilepsy and was successful in determining the etiology, laying the foundation for contemporary psychiatry. In 1672, he published a scientific paper titled ‘De Anima Brutorum’ that detailed his findings.
As part of his research into the human brain, he was able to determine the number of cranial nerves that emerge from the brain. He accurately described the mesolobe, corpora striata, and optic thalami while studying neurophysiology. Thomas also investigated the structure of the cerebellum and detailed the functions of the carotid and basilar arteries.
He published the results of his research on metabolic illnesses, particularly diabetes mellitus, in the scholarly publication ‘Pharmaceutice rationalis’ in 1674. The name’mellitus’ was coined by Thomas, and the ailment is also known as ‘Willis’s disease.’
Major Projects of Thomas Willis
In the sphere of medicine, Willis’ most notable contribution was his work on the anatomy of the human mind. He described the structure and function of numerous critical parts of the brain, such as the cranial nerves and cerebellum, in great detail. In comparison to his predecessors’ works, his observations were fairly apparent.
Personal History and Legacy
Willis’ first marriage was to Mary Fell, the daughter of priest Samuel Fell, and the couple had nine children, one of them died in infancy. In 1672, Thomas married Elizabeth Calley, who he met after Mary’s death. On November 11, 1675, in London, the distinguished scientist passed away.
Estimated Net Worth
Tom Willis is one of the wealthiest Association Football Players, as well as one of the most popular. Tom Willis’ net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.