Galen (c.130 – c.210 AD) was a Greek physician that lived in Rome and influenced occidental medicine for fifteen centuries. Many of his knowledge were based on comparative anatomy. In ancient Rome it was forbidden to do autopsy (in pagan Rome). So, it was necessary to study anatomy of animals and compare it to humans.
In the 16th century the Flemish physician Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) rebelled against the galenic anatomy adopted in the University of Paris and went to the University of Padua, where he could learn about human autopsy. So, he became the founder of modern anatomy based on the direct study of the human body.
It is interesting that sometime after that, in the 17th century, the study of physiology started based on vivisection of Descartes and empiric science of Francis Bacon, both using animals and comparing to humans; maybe we could name it, in a certain way, a kind of “galenic science”.
Recently, in The New York Times it was published an article about a paper of Dr. H. Shaw Warren and collaborators in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That paper was about the misleading of research based on mouse model for at least three pathologic conditions: sepsis, burn and trauma. They found that the immune response of the mouse is very different of that response in humans. So, the response to the same drug is not the same in mouse and in humans. The genomic knowledge could explain that difference.
In the last decades new scientific and clinic knowledge brought new light to biologic mechanism of sepsis.
It does not mean that any animal model is not anymore useful. But it is necessary understand better the complexity of the human body itself in its singularity, or even comparing to animals.
So, notions of Complexity, that was proposed first in the field of Biology in the beginning of the 20th century, are now again necessary to understand peculiarities in a “transdisciplinary” approach of knowledge in several fields of science.