Luis Galvani

Date of birth: 9 September, 1737. Bolonia, Italia.

Date of death: 4 December, 1798. Bolonia, Italia.

Biography

Luis Galvani graduated in Medicine and Philosophy at the University of Bologna in 1759. In 1762 he obtained the doctorate degree with his thesis on the formation and development of bones (De Ossibus).Since the lecture of his thesis, he became a permanent anatomist in the university.

In 1772, he was named president of the Bologna Academy of Science.

His research was directed in comparative anatomy at first, but in the early 1770s he started to became interested in medical electricity, an arising field that studied the effects of electricity on the human body. This new interest lead him to focus and dedicate on bioelectricity and electrophysiology.

Galvani was chair professor in his University for 35 years (1762-1797) and was also proclaimed chief of obstetrics. In 1797, after the French occupation of Northern Italy, every university professor was called to swear loyalty to Napoleon Bonaparte, the new authority. Galvani refused to do so, and was deprived of all of his charges.

Luis Galvani was married to Lucia Galeazzi, who served as a counselor and guide to his investigations. They had no children.

Work

One of the main responsibilities that came with his position as a president of the Academy of Science was to present at least one research paper every year, which Galvani did until his death.

Until Galvani’s intervention, movement was thought to be caused by air or fluid. The spiritus animalis was the major hypothesis in the understanding of movement, and the workings of the nervous system. He provided a scientific based model to start the explanation of the nervous system, and included electricity in the equation.

Luis Galvani is recognized as the father of bioelectromagnentics. In the 1780s, he discovered that electricity through the muscles of dead frogs made them move. This is one of the first facts that stablished the field of bioelectricity. His observations provided the basis for the understanding of movement, that until that moment was thought to be caused by air or fluid.

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