Friday, July 27, 2012

Frank Netter, Medical Illustrator

When I started graduate school at Vanderbilt University, I had a strong background in physics but was weak in biology and medicine. One of the sources I used to learn some anatomy was the eight-volume CIBA Collection of Medical Illustrations by Frank Netter. I dearly loved browsing through his illustrations. Because of my interest in cardiac electrophysiology, I was particularly fond of Volume 5 about the heart. Some of his illustrations can be seen online here, here, here, here, and here.

At http://www.netterimages.com you can learn much about Netter and his work. Some of Netter’s books have recently been updated and reissued. A video about this reissue includes an interview with Netter, showing him at work on his drawings. Netter’s Atlas of Neuroscience was updated by David Felten, the Associate Dean for Research at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. I often see students walking around the OU campus carrying Netter’s Atlas of Human Anatomy. You can even buy Netter flash cards.

The Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame contains an entry about Netter.
“Frank H. Netter (1906–1991) was born in New York and grew up during the Golden Age of Illustration. He studied at the National Academy of Design, and later at the Art Students League. But his mother wanted him to be a doctor, and when she died suddenly, he resolved to give up art, and study medicine as she had wished. He graduated from City College of New York, BS 1927, and New York University Medical College, MD 1931. But the demand for his pictures far exceeded the demand for his surgery.”
More about Netter’s life is described in his New York Times obituary. Also, see the article Frank H Netter, Medicine's Michelangelo: An Editorial Perspective, by Rita Washko (Science Editor, Volume 29, Pages 16-18, 2006).

Readers of the 4th edition of Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology who need to brush up on the anatomy should take a look at Netter’s books.

2 comments:

  1. Netter's drawings will be well used far into the future. They are Amazing.

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