Francis Glisson

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Glisson, Francis


Born 1597, in Rampisham, Dorsetshire; died Oct. 16, 1677, in London. English physician, anatomist, and physiologist.

Glisson became a professor at Cambridge University in 1636. He was the first to describe rickets (1650) and to study the structure of the liver (1654). The membrane covering the liver is named after him (Glisson’s capsule). He introduced the concept of irritability; he believed that all parts of the body are constructed of fibers capable of perceiving external stimuli and responding to them with various characteristic movements (contraction, secretion, and so on). Glisson rejected the theory of the French scientist R. Descartes of nerve “fluids,” which prevailed at that time, experimentally proving its untenability by measuring the volume of a muscle before and after contraction (by means of immersing it in a vessel of water). Glisson believed that matter is not inert but capable of independent movement and sensitivity.


Tractatus de natura substantiae energetica seu de vita naturae, ejusque tribus facultatibus naturalibus. London, 1672.
Tractatus de ventrículo et intestinis. London, 1677.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.