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Vicq d'Azyr was born in Valognes, Normandy, the son of a physician.
He graduated in medicine at the University of Paris and became a renowned and brilliant animal and human anatomist and physician.
Vicq d'Azyr taught a celebrated course of anatomy at the Jardin du Roi (actually the Museum of Natural history) since 1773 in Paris. In 1774 he was elected a member of the Académie des Sciences with the support of his friend Condorcet (Perpetual secretary). In the later capacity, he was in charge of writing the eulogies of his colleagues, which he made with a great talent, thus obtaining a lifetime membership to the French Academy in 1788. At the occasion of an epidemy in Guyenne he was charged of a report, of propositions and execution. In order to pursue what appears as a first perception of the responsability of state on wealth affairs Turgot proposed the creation of the Société Royale de Médecine of which in 1775 he was nominated perpetual secretary . In this charge, the Société compiled along 16 years a great number and variety of information about diseases, physicians, economic and food resources, etc.
He was the last physician of the Queen Marie-Antoinette that he tried to protect. He was also a professor of veterinary medicine at the School of Alfort and a , as well as superintendent of epidemies.
As an anatomist he was also one of the first to use coronal sections of the brain and to use alcohol in order to facilitate dissection. He described the locus coeruleus, the locus niger in the brain, in 1786, and the band of Vicq d'Azyr, a fiber system between the external granular layer and the external pyramidal layer of the cerebral cortex, as well as the mamillo-thalamic tract, which bears his name. His studies of the cerebral convolutions systematically became a classic and Vicq d'Azyr was one of the first neuroanatomist to identify the gyri with names. He studied the deep gray nuclei of the cerebrum and the basal ganglia. He participated in the second Encyclopedia. Vicq d'Azyr died on June 20, 1794 during the terror for uncertain reason.
- Mémoires sur l'Anatomie Humaine et Comparée
- Traité d'Anatomie et de Physiologie
- Système Anatomique des Quadrupèdes
- Mandressi, R. Félix Vicq d'Azyr : l’anatomie, l’État, la médecine. In French.
- fr:Félix Vicq d'Azyr