Thomas Willis (1621–1675) was an English physician.
- Born 27 January 1621 Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire
- Died 11 November 1675
Willis-Ekbom disease (Witmaack-Ekbom syndrome; Restless leg syndrome)
Restless leg syndrome appears to be an enigmatic disorder probably influenced by heterogeneous environmental and genetic factors that may work through a variety of so far ill-defined neurochemical systems.
Thomas Willis records in his posthumous publication The London Practice of Physick (1685):
Wherefore to some, when being abed they betake themselves to sleep, presently in the arms and legs, leapings and contractions of the tendons, and so great a restlessness and tossing of their members ensue, that the diseased are no more able to sleep, than if they were in a place of the greatest tortureWillis: Of the Watching Evil 1685: 404-405 [PDF]
Circle of Willis
Thomas Willis was not the first to describe the arterial circle at the base of the brain, but was the first to provide a complete description; an illustration of this vascular pattern; and to indicate that he understood the probable function of the arterial circle. The illustration was drawn by Sir Christopher Wren, architect of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Key Medical Attributions
- Willis T. Diatribae Duae Medico-Philosophicae. 1659
- Willis T. Cerebri anatome : cui accessit nervorum descriptio et usus. [Anatomy of the Brain, with a Description of the Nerves and Their Function] 1664 [Circle of Willis]
- Willis T. Pathologiae cerebri et nervosi generis specimen, in quo agitur de morbis convulsivis et de scorbuto. 1667. [Early descriptions of asthma and epilepsy]
- Willis T. Affectionum Quae Dicuntur Hystericae et Hypochondriacae. 1670
- Willis T. De Anima Brutorum Quae Hominis Vitalis ac Sensitiva Est. 1672
- Willis T. Phamaceuticae Rationalis [Volume I] [Volume II] 1675
- Willis T. A plain and easie method for preserving (by God’s blessing) those that are well from the infection of the plague, or any contagious distemper. 1691 [Only book in English: posthumous publication of work Willis undertook circa 1666]
- Willis T. The London practice of physick: or the whole practical part of physick contained in the works of Dr. Willis [Willis-Ekbom disease]
- Willis T. Opera omnia, nitidius quàm vnquam hactenus edita, plurimùm emendata, indice rerum copiosissimo, ac distinctione characterum exornata. [The complete works published 1964]
- O’Connor JPB. Thomas Willis and the background to Cerebri Anatome. J R Soc Med. 2003 Mar; 96(3): 139–143. [PMC539424]
- Karamanou M et al. Milestones in the history of diabetes mellitus: The main contributors. World J Diabetes. 2016 Jan 10; 7(1): 1–7. [PMC4707300]
- Arráez-Aybar LA et al. Thomas Willis, a pioneer in translational research in anatomy (on the 350th anniversary of Cerebri anatome). J Anat. 2015 Mar; 226(3): 289–300. [PMC4337668]
- Finger S. Minds behind the Brain – A History of the Pioneers and Their Discoveries. Oxford University Press 2004 pp85-101
- Grand W. The anatomy of the brain, by Thomas Willis. Neurosurgery. 1999 Nov;45(5):1234-6 [PMID 10549943]
- Williams AN, Sunderland R. Thomas Willis: the first paediatric neurologist? Arch Dis Child. 2001 Dec;85(6):506-9. [PMC1719014]
- Fresquet JL. Thomas Willis (1621-1675). Historia de la Medicina.
- Koehler PJ, Bruyn GW, Pearce JMS. Neurological Eponyms. Oxford University Press 2000. pp56-63
- Rengachary SS, Xavier A, Manjila S, Smerdon U, Parker B, Hadwan S, Guthikonda M. The legendary contributions of Thomas Willis (1621-1675): the arterial circle and beyond. J Neurosurg. 2008 Oct;109(4):765-75. [PMID 18826368]
the person behind the name