English physician and humanist. He was educated at Gonville Hall, Cambridge, and at the University of Padua, Italy, where he studied medicine under Vesalius. On his return to England he taught anatomy in London and in 1547 became a member of the College of Physicians. He was physician royal to Edward VI, Mary Tudor, and Queen Elizabeth I. In 1557 he refounded his old college at Cambridge, which was renamed Gonville and Caius.
He was born in Norwich. He became a fellow of Gonville Hall in 1529 and received his MD from Padua in 1541. After lecturing on anatomy in London, he practised medicine in Shrewsbury and Norwich. He was president of the College of Physicians nine times.
In 1557 he received permission to elevate his college, providing it with a new court and three fine gates, which he designed himself – some of the earliest examples of English architecture inspired by the Italian Renaissance. He became master of the college in 1559. His period in office was difficult, for as a Catholic he met opposition from the Protestant college fellows – he had two of them put in the stock for burning his vestments, and became involved in protracted lawsuits. A pioneer of anatomy studies, he obtained permission for Caius College to obtain two bodies of criminals a year for dissection.
Much of his own time was spent editing a number of texts by Hippocrates and Galen. He also wrote A Boke or Counseill against the Sweatyng Sicknesse (1552), an account of the mysterious epidemic which swept through 16th-century Britain. He also became involved in controversies over the pronunciation of Greek, and the relative antiquity of Oxford and Cambridge.