Alessandra Giliani

You’ve probably never heard of Alessandra Giliani, though she was a pioneer in anatomy research. In the 14th century, when cadavers were dissected for research and educational purposes, she became known as a qualified prosector — one who dissects cadavers for demonstration to university students — the only known woman prosector in medieval Europe. She is also credited with inventing the method of

injecting colored liquids into blood vessels in order to study the circulatory system.

Dates: ~1307 – March 26, 1326
Occupation: surgeon’s assistant, anatomist

About Alessandra Giliani:

Alessandra Giliani was an assistant to Mondino de Luzzi, who wrote an anatomy handbook in 1316. He was known as the “father of anatomy.” She was his “valued dissector and assistant.” While working with him, she specialized in dissections for demonstrations and research, and pioneered the technique of injecting colored liquids to trace the circulatory system.

Alessandra Giliani was honored by Otto Angenius, probably her fiance, with a plaque at the Church of San Pietro e Marcellino describing her work — and their relationship.

Places: Bologna, Italy

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