Johann Gottfried Zinn

Born 1727
Died 1759

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German anatomist, ophthalmologist, and botanist, born December 4, 1727, Ansbach, Mittelfranken; died April 6, 1759, Göttingen.

Biography of Johann Gottfried Zinn

Johann Gottfried Zinn commenced his medical studies in his native city of Ansbach in Mittelfranken. He then came to Göttingen where he was one of Albrecht von Haller's (1798-1777) best students and obtained his doctorate in 1749. He left Haller and Göttingen for Berlin in order to perfect his knowledge of anatomy and at the same time study botany.

In 1753 Zinn was called back to Göttingen as extraordinary professor of medicine and director of the botanical gardens in this university town. Zinn accepted the invitation, but had little time to realise his ambitions, dying at the early age of 32.

The close working relationship between Zinn and Haller was advantageous to both scientists, but for medicine Zinn's stay in Berlin is the more important. Here he had available an extensive material for the pursuit of his ophthalmological research. He was one of the first to render an accurate description of the eyeball and he investigated the vessels and nerves of the eye cavity.

His written works mainly concerns the results of his investigations, as well as important works on botany. His most important work is undoubtedly Descriptio anatomica oculi humani, a fundamental work in the history of ophthalmology. His name is preserved in those of several finer structures of the eye.

Besides the works mentioned below, Zinn published in Hamburgisches Magazin, Göttinger gelehrten Anzeigen, Hannoverschen Sammlungen.

In his honour Linné named a genus of plants "Zinnia".

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