Mathieu Orfila, Spanish toxicologist

Mathieu Orfila, Spanish toxicologist

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Credit: COLLECTION ABECASIS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Mathieu Orfila (1787-1853). 1880 illustration of the Spanish toxicologist Mathieu Joseph Bonaventure Orfila. Orfila is best-known as the 'Father of Toxicology' and was the first great 19th-century exponent of forensic medicine. He worked to make chemical analysis a routine part of forensic medicine and made studies of asphyxiation, the decomposition of bodies and exhumation. He helped to develop tests for the presence of blood in a forensic context and is credited as one of the first people to use a microscope to assess blood and semen stains. He also worked to improve public health systems and medical training.

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