- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Achille-Louis-François Foville

Born  1799
Died  1878

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French neurologist and psychiatrist, born 1799, Pontoise, département Seine-et-Oise; died June 22, 1878, Toulouse.

Biography of Achille-Louis-François Foville

Achille-Louis-François Foville is remembered for his work in comparative neuroanatomy. Among his teachers were Léon Louis Rostan (1790-1866) and Jean Étienne Dominique Esquirol (1772-1840). Whilst an intern at the Salpêtrière he worked with a number of famous Parisian physicians including Esquirol, and commenced his work on anatomy and physiology of the nervous system and was especially intrigued by cerebral localisation.

Foville received his doctorate in 1824, and in 1825 he was appointed medical superintendent at the Saint-Yon asylum in Rouen which had just been opened. He soon became well known, publishing papers on disorders of the nervous system and developing an outstanding reputation as director of asylums and became professor of physiology at the medical school of Rouen.

Ill health forced Foville to resign from Saint-Yon in 1833 and he spent some time travelling, including a trip to Africa and America. He returned to Paris and re-commenced his studies on the brain, and when Esquirol died he was appointed professor at Charenton in 1840. Four years later he published an important work on the anatomy of the nervous system of the spinal cord which was one of the best prior to the introduction of the microscope. He lost his post at Charenton during the revolution in 1848 and commenced private practice. For the next 20 years he was regarded as one of the best physicians treating mental disorders in Paris. He retired to Toulouse where he continued in a role as a consultant physician.

His son was the distinguished psychiatrist Achille-Louis-François Foville (1831-1887)


  • Sur les causes et le siège des maladies mentales.
    Early work, with Delaye. 1820.
  • Traité complet de l’anatomie, de la physiologie et de la pathologie du système nerveux cérébro-spinal.

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