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Gabriel Andral

Born 1797-11-06
Died 1876-02-13

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French physician, born November 6, 1797, Paris; died February 13, 1876, Châteauvieux.

Biography of Gabriel Andral

Gabriel Andral was the founder of the science of haematology and is credited with the integration of that science into clinical and investigative medicine. He is known for having catalogued the most important diseases of the bladder and is said to be the originator of the word anaemia and hyperaemia. He was also the first physician to see the potential of chemical analysis of the blood.

Andral was born in Paris, the son of a well-known physician who was a member of the academy and personal physician to the French revolutionary leader Jean Paul Marat (1743-1793), who was murdered in his bathtub on July 13, 1793 by Charlotte Cordet. A prodigy, Gabriel started his medical studies early, and received his doctorate in 1821, aged 24, with a thesis on expectoration, particularly on their semiotic meaning. He was habilitated in 1824, and became agrégé, with his concours paper: An antiquorum doctrina de crisbus et diebus criticis admittenda? an in curandis morbis et praesertim acutis observanda?.

On the death of René-Joseph-Hyacinthe Bertin (born 1757) in 1828 the faculty appointed the young agrégé professor of hygiene. When baron Réné-Nicolas-Dufriche Desgenettes (1782-1837) retired he became professor of internal pathology, and in 1839 he eventually succeeded François Joseph Victor Broussais (1772-1838) in the chair of general pathology and therapy, holding this tenure for 27 years. Besides he was physician at the Charité. In 1823, only three years after its foundation, Andral became a member of the Academy of medicine. In 1843 he became member of the Institute, and in 1858 was made a commander of the Legion of Honour.

In 1866 he abandoned his chair and retired, probably due to family matters, to Chateauvieux; but still he took part in the advances of science and participated in the transactions of learned societies. His neverending scientific curiosity is demonstrated by the fact that in the year befor his death, he presented a report on glucosuria to the Academy of Medicine. He died of a heart condition on February 13, 1873, aged 79, in Chateauvieux. His funeral in Paris was attended by large numbers of people.

Andral's lasting fame rests on his main oeuvre, Clinique médicale, a five-volume work that comprises almost every aspect of medicine. This work may be considered a summary of French medicine as it had developed in the first decades of the 19th century.

He was one of the creators of clinical medicine in the modern sense, considering himself a heir to the clinical views of Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771), to whom he owed much in emphasising the importance of pathological-anatomical findings, while working in the tradition of René-Théophile Hyacinthe Laënnec (1781-1826) in comparing the autopsy findings with the symptoms observed in vitam. A close friend and colleague of Pierre-Charles-Alexandre Louis (1787-1872), Andral supported his numerical method of case study and assisted in the campaign against the fanatical "bloodthirst" advocated by the school of Broussais.

Andral's powers of persuasion, his vigorous style of writing, and his skill at lecturing contributed significantly to his tremendous influence on European medicine. In 1837 he published the works of his great predecessor Laënnec with commentaries.

The first volume of the first edition of Clinique médicale was begun while Andral was still a medical student and was first published in 1823. As a treatise on general medicine, it is representative of the best medical practices of the day.

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