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 Jan Evangelista Purkinje

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Jan Evangelista Purkinje

  • Birth 17 Dec 1787 Czech Republic
  • Death 28 Jul 1869 Prague, Okres Praha, Prague Capital City, Czech Republic
  • Burial Prague, Okres Praha, Prague Capital City, Czech Republic
  • Plot Enter the cemetery by its rear door. Turn to your right and, when finding the first passage, turn to your left. A few meters away stands Purkinje's grave, at your left hand side.
  • Memorial ID 39468990

Scientist. Born in Libochovice (Bohemia), at that time belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now to Czech Republic, he became fatherless and poor at 6 years old what forced him to enter, at 10, a Piarist monastery at Mikulov in southern Moravia, near the Austrian border. There he turned into a choirboy while reading to become a priest. As a novice, he was called brother Silverius; nonetheless, and just prior to be ordained, he chose to be a doctor instead at Prague University, where, in 1818, he presented his doctoral thesis on vision, and next year he reached his graduation in Medicine. Then as a scientist he manifested interest in a wide range of fields, including Anatomy, Histology, Embryology, and Experimental Physiology. In 1823, and although fingerprints were encouraged to be used in criminology not until about 70 years later with the work of Sir Francis Galton, he recognized the importance of fingerprints in human individuality and divided them into 9 chief categories. He was the first scientist to perceive the existence of skin sweat glands and described the ciliary movements. A serial of scientific eponyms are linked to his name; for instance, the Purkinje cells (in cerebellar cortex) and the Purkinje fibers (in heart ventricles), not to mention that a crater on the Moon and an asteroid also bear his name. He developed new laboratorial methods for processing and sectioning biological tissues and founded, in 1839, the world first independent department of Physiology at the University of Breslau, in Prussia (now Wroclaw, in Poland). He coined the term protoplasm for the living matter inside the cells, a knowledge that helped to sustain the formulation of the Cell Theory. He was considered one of the most prominent and famous scientists of the 19th Century; it is said that for sending him letters from outside Europe, it was enough to write in the address "Purkinje, Europe". In 1868, he was given the Order of Leopold. He died next year in Prague. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once wrote about him: "…and should you fail to understand, let Purkinje give you a hand!"

Bio by: Rogério Monteiro





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Rogério Monteiro
  • Added: 15 Jul 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 39468990
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Jan Evangelista Purkinje (17 Dec 1787–28 Jul 1869), Find A Grave Memorial no. 39468990, citing Vysehradsky Cemetery, Prague, Okres Praha, Prague Capital City, Czech Republic ; Maintained by Find A Grave .