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Cushing, Harvey Williams

pituitary type studied brain

(1869–1939) US physiologist and neurosurgeon: pioneered investigations of the physiology of the brain.

A physician’s son, Cushing studied medicine at Yale and Harvard, finally specializing in neuro-surgery. He experimented on the effects of raised intracranial pressure in animals; his improved methods for diagnosis, localization and surgical removal of intracranial tumours stemmed from this work. For a long time his personal surgical skill in this field was unsurpassed. Measurement of blood pressure in his patients began in 1906 and knowledge of hypertension and its effects begins with his work. From 1908 he also studied the function and pathology of the pituitary gland at the base of the brain, again working first with dogs. He showed that acromegaly is linked with one type of pituitary overactivity in the growing animal and dwarfism with its underactivity. Cushing’s syndrome, which is associated with chronic wasting and other symptoms, he showed to be linked with a type of pituitary tumour; it is now known that other disorders that increase the production of corticosteroid hormones by the adrenal glands also lead to this syndrome.

Cutter's Trail [next] [back] Curtis-Hall, Vondie (1956–)

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