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Leonardo da Vinci in Malaysia


Professor Peter Abrahams delivered a brilliant lecture “Leonardo Da Vinci- A 15th century anatomist whose artistic and conceptual ideas anticipated 21st century radiology?’ in Kuching, Malaysia.

Fulbright alumnus Peter Abrahams, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Anatomy at Warwick Medical School, was in Kuching, Malaysia in mid-August 2016 to share his research on Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical drawings at the British Council ‘Knowledge is GREAT’ Lecture at the Sarawak State Library.

Over 70 guests, including Warwick alumni, learned about the drawings the Renaissance polymath made from dissections of the human anatomy, which were remarkable in their precision and accuracy, and which lay undiscovered for nearly 300 years in the Queen’s Library at Windsor Castle. Had they been published at the time, da Vinci’s knowledge of the human anatomy would have enhanced medical knowledge immeasurably.

The British Council ‘Knowledge is GREAT’ Lecture series showcases UK Knowledge, Creativity, and Innovation through leading UK specialists in areas of topical debate and discussion.

Joanne Low, Deputy Director, Education & Society British Council Malaysia, said:

It is fascinating to see Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings and compare it with modern day scans - the anatomical accuracy of it is extraordinary! We are so pleased that Professor Abrahams has delivered his lecture as it has opened our eyes to a completely different side of Leonardo da Vinci. British Council is grateful to have collaborated with University of Warwick in bringing him here and to Pustaka Negeri Sarawak for hosting the lecture. We hope for further similar collaborations in the future”

Guests of the lecture said:

"A very enlightening and entertaining tour de force on human anatomy (usually a dry subject). Congratulations to Professor Abrahams for providing a very exhilarating evening of excitement and fun. There was not a single dull moment!"

Professor Datuk Dr Chew, Adjunct Professor of Medicine,Faculty of Medicine & Health Science, University of Malaysia, Sarawak

“Lucy and I are glad we spent the evening to attend the lecture. Being not conversant on anatomy, we thought it would be dry and boring. But after the lecture we did not only marvel the genius in Leonardo Da Vinci, but also the ease Peter had in comparing the 15th century drawings with 21st century radiographic images. We are sure, without pulling my former teacher's leg, that the same lecture would not have been that interesting and captivating had it been presented by anybody else."

Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum, President, Dayak Chamber of Commerce & Industry

“Professor Abrahams' lecture was very impressive and he had provided all of the evidence to support the contribution of Leonardo as an anatomist.”

Dr Saiful Talip, Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine & Health Science, University of Malaysia, Sarawak

“A wonderful evening of mighty education and entertainment from a man who clearly knows what he is talking about, and at the same time is able to share such passion with us non-academics. Many thanks, Prof. Come back soon – please.”

Mike Cannon, Managing Director, Sarawak Convention Bureau

Professor Abrahams sharing the intricate drawings of Leonardo da Vinci and comparing it with modern day scans

Professor Abrahams was an English and Geography teacher at the former Binatang Government Secondary School in the mid–1960s, before leaving to pursue his medical studies. In 1968, he was sent as a medical officer to Kapit, and has kept contact with his friends in Kuching, many of whom attended the lecture to lend their support.

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Professor Abrahams sharing his experience as a medical doctor in Kapit

In 2012, Professor Abrahams and one of Singapore’s senior surgeons, Dr Goh Hak Su, originally from Mukah in Sarawak, launched a scholarship to enable outstanding Sarawakian final-year medical students from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak to go on exchange at Warwick Medical School at the University of Warwick, to “experience and understand how different medicine is in the tropics and in (the) English national socialised system.”

Final-year medical students from the Warwick University also travel to Sarawak for the same purpose.