Medical Terminology Daily (MTD) is a blog sponsored by Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc. as a service to the medical community. We post anatomical, medical or surgical terms, their meaning and usage, as well as biographical notes on anatomists, surgeons, and researchers through the ages. Be warned that some of the images used depict human anatomical specimens.

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A Moment in History

Larsen

William J. Larsen, PhD
(1942-2000)

An American scientist, Dr. Larsen was a gifted scientist, consistently producing research at the forefront of cell, developmental, and reproductive biology. Early in his career he published a landmark paper that conclusively established mitochondrial fission as the mechanism of mitochondrial biogenesis. He went on to become the first to demonstrate the endocytosis of gap junctions. Moreover, his work on the hormonal regulation of gap junction formation and growth culminated in an authoritative review article in Tissue and Cell, “Structural Diversity of Gap Junctions (1988)”, which became a citation classic.

Throughout his 25 year teaching career, his sixty-seven peer reviewed publications—not to mention numerous invited reviews, abstracts, and book chapters—covered a wide range of research areas including adrenal cortical tumor cells, human ovarian carcinomas, preterm labor, cumulus expansion, oocyte maturation, ovulation, folliculogenesis, and in-vitro fertilization.

In addition to his many contributions to basic research, Dr. Larsen loved to teach and was much appreciated by his students. His exceptional ability was reflected in the four teaching awards he received as a professor at the University of Cincinnati.

Notably, he was the author of Human Embryology, a textbook for medical students that was the first to incorporate modern experimental research into a subject that had traditionally been taught in a strictly descriptive style. On its initial publication in 1998 it was hailed as, “a magnificent book…” by the European Medical Journal. With the release of the fourth edition in 2008, the book was renamed “Larsen’s Human Embryology” in recognition of Dr. Larsen's place as the originator of this revolutionary text. This book is today in it's 6th Edition.

His stellar scientific career would be enough for most people, but Dr. Larsen pursued his numerous and varied interests with such extraordinary passion, energy, and skill that he seemed to have more hours in a day than the ordinary person. He was fascinated with the American Southwest and studied and collected traditional arts and crafts of the Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo peoples. He was a woodworker who built three harpsichords and a fortepiano for his wife, and, with his two children, over 100 pieces of gallery-quality furniture. In addition, he loved to regale his friends, colleagues, and students with jokes and stories, and to share his love for gourmet cooking.

The William J. Larsen Distinguished Lecture Series

An annual lecture series was created for the Department of Cancer & Cell Biology at the University of Cincinnati to honor Dr. Larsen's research which was at the forefront of cell developmental and reproductive biology. This series recognizes forward-thinking research scientists in the field of developmental biology and asks that they share their research and findings with students and faculty of the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine.

Personal note: I had the opportunity to meet and attend Dr. Larsen’s embryology lectures as he and I worked in the Anatomy, Embryology, and Histology program at the University of Cincinnati Medical College. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to have Dr. Larsen sign my personal copy of his book. He is sorely missed, Dr. Miranda

Sources:

1. "The William J. Larsen Distinguished Lecture Series" University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine.
2. https://www.larsenbooks.com
3. 2022 Larsen Lecture Series brochure (download here)
4. Dr. Larsen's family personal communications


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Pascale Pollier

Pascale Pollier is a sculptor/artist who is interested in the melding of art and science. A Belgian National, she studied fine art and Painting in St Lucas art school in Ghent, Belgium and subsequently postgraduate training with the Medical Artists Association, London UK.

She was president and co-founder of BIOMAB (Biological and Medical Art in Belgium) . In 2010 the international collaboration program "Art Researches Science" was created, organizing exhibitions, dissection drawing classes, collaborative art/science projects, symposiums and conferences. The International collaboration partners are: Universities of Antwerp, London, Dundee, Strasbourg and New York.

Pascale Pollier

Pascale is also an external examiner for the medical art course at The Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification, University of Dundee. She is President of the AEIMS (Association Europeenes des lllustrateurs  Medicaux et Scientifiques). She works and lives in London as an artist. You can visit her website "artem medicalis" here.

Her art can be best expressed in the words of Jac Scott in his book "Language of Mixed-Media Sculpture": "Pascalle Pollier creates poetic 3D renditions of anatomically referenced 'body maps' that celebrate human life and death. The immediacy of the subject matter and her ability to capture realism provoke reactions from quietly unsettling to outrage. Her work is not for the faint-hearted - its honesty in its clear intent confronts all who gaze at the wonder of the human form in its various states of undress - shedding clothes or skin.... Pollier approaches form a medical science perspective". For images of her work, visit MEDinART.

Her nationality and studies guided her to Andreas Vesalius and with Theo Dirix and other collaborators Pascale was instrumental in the realization of the 2014 Vesalius Continuum meeting on the island of Zakynthos, Greece.

Thanks to her vision and collaborative work, now there is a new bronze sculpture on the island celebrating the famous Flemish (Belgian) anatomist. She is also deeply involved in the quest to find Vesalius' grave on the island. To this effect, and based on the few images we have of Andreas Vesalius, Pascale created a reverse-engineered bust of Vesalius which depicts what his skull might look like. Several bronze copies of this piece of art are today in exhibits in libraries and museums around the world. To fund the on-going research to find Vesalius' grave, Pascale is offering five wax copies of the bust for sale.

Thanks to Pascale Pollier for collaborating with "Medical Terminology Daily" with the article "In Search of Andreas Vesalius, The Quest for the Lost Grave - The Sequel" which she co-authored with Theo Dirix and Dr. Sylviane Déderix.

Wax bust of Andreas Vesalius by Pascale Pollier
Wax bust of Andreas Vesalius by Pascale Pollier.
Click on the image for a larger depiction

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