On the Threshold of Scientific Medicine: Gerard van Swieten and His Perception of the Pathophysiology in Traumatic Brain Injury

O.E.M.G. Schijns*, P.J. Koehler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Gerard van Swieten (1700-1772), famous pupil of Professor Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738) of Leiden University and personal physician of Austrian Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780). Herman Boerhaave was a renowned Dutch physician inside and outside Europe in the 18th century. He was not only appointed professor in medicine, chemistry, and botany but also a chancellor of the Leiden University in 1714 and published his well-known Aphorismi de cognoscendis et curandis morbis in 1709. Gerard van Swieten commented upon Boerhaave's aphorisms and demonstrated actual knowledge, less well-known among the medical community, about the pathophysiology of traumatic brain injury which half a century later (19th century) became known as the Monro-Kellie doctrine. Using the original commentaries upon Boerhaave's aphorisms by van Swieten himself, we explored his way of formulating the pathophysiological concept of traumatic brain injury, which still is valid today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-398
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Neurology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


  • Gerard van Swieten
  • Traumatic brain injury

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