Claude Bernard was one of the most distinguished physiologists and medical scientists of nineteenth century France, and arguably the most influential on subsequent generations of medical researchers. Yet it is not easy to find the full scope of what he did and wrote - nor what has been written about him. This website allows access to the details of his life, work and publications. Material covered is not only in French, but also in the languages of the many scientists and medical historians who have written about him and translated his many works. The Bibliothèque Nationale, Bibliothèque Inter-Universitaire de Médecine et Odontologie (BIUM), Colisciences/CNRS as well as the Max Planck Institute (Berlin) carry digitized or microfiched versions of many of Bernard's books and articles. Thanks to these libraries, the site has direct links to the full text of most of these documents.
The evolution of Bernard's life: from schoolboy to dramatist, pharmacist, medical student, scientist and philosopher is fascinating. Drawing together material from many sources, an initial biography provides an insight into the distinct phases of his life: challenges, achievements and disappointments. The comprehensive linked bibliography provides the connection with all available full texts.
Bernard was apparently a kind and thoughtful man, but his single minded commitment to science gives the impression of a self-centred existence. This attitude nevertheless gave him time to discover and teach: to reflect on what he had done and what he wished to do. he consistently refused to consider himself as a philosopher, yet his research led to philosophical principles that he used to modify his approach to research. In turn, his projects yielded reproducible results and conclusions which have mostly stood the test of time.
These thoughts and ideas on research are wonderfully represented in his Cahier Rouge, his Pensées - Notes Détachées, and the now-famous Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine: almost 150 years later, still a reference book for students of natural sciences,, medicine and philosophy. From these works, we provide quotations that reflect his unique train of thought. The bibliography section also lists a selection of articles and books about Bernard and his work, and of which we summarize the content. This should minimize the number of unrewarding searches and expensive purchases.
Others have probed Bernard's life and writings without necessarily publishing their findings. We welcome their comments, and will either add such information, or use it to modify and improve our presentation. We are particularly indebted to Madame Marie-Aymée Marduel, wife of a fourth generation descendant of Antoinette-Caroline Bernard (sister of Claude Bernard), for her genealogical research and her provision to us of additional detail of Bernard's life, hitherto unpublished.
The chief contributor, site manager and the author of the biography is Peter Wise: retired physician, endocrinologist and medical researcher, previously of the Charing Cross Hospital and the Imperial College School of Medicine, London. Already as a medical student, he learned of Claude Bernard's remarkable contributions to medical science, of which many elements remained relevant to his clinical and research work over a period of four decades.
Dr Wise has published a biographical novel based on the life of Claude Bernard. "A Matter of Doubt" can be downloaded from Amazon as an e-book from http://tinyurl.com/matterofdoubt or as a paperback from http://tinyurl.com/matterofdoubt2 A blog site to enable feedback on all aspects of Bernard's life and work can be found on http://tinyurl.com/BernardBlog
We are grateful for the help provided by Jacqueline Joseph, and particularly to Liliane Benedikt and Michel Solaret for translation of the text for the French version. Our site is being continuously modified, and any suggestions are welcome. To contact Peter Wise, kindly complete the contact form.