Book Review: Eminent Neuroscientists: Their Lives and Works
Author: Kalyan B. Bhattacharyya, MD, DM, MAMS, FRCP
R G Kar Medical College & Hospital, Kolkata, India
Academic Publishers, 2012
Review contributed by Christopher G. Goetz, MD
Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA
As a group, I find that neurologists still favor eponyms and disease labels that honor celebrated scientists and clinicians of the past. Whereas movement disorders specialists are not more inclined to use these designations than other neurologists, within our field, we retain such nomenclature as Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, among many others. For this reason, MDS members and website readers will want to review the very large table of contents in the new book by Kalyan B. Bhattacharyya that brings together short biographies of a wide array of celebrated neuroscientists. With over 100 entries, each accompanied by a portrait, the author has assembled a broad range of biographies that cover personal and professional accomplishments that span collectively several centuries of neuroscience evolution. In addition to the names cited above, readers will find discussions of Sydenham, Kinnier-Wilson, and Westphal, names familiar within our nosology.
Very importantly in the section, The Modern Age, readers will find synopses of recently deceased movement disorders colleagues, including C. David Marsden and Anita Harding. The rest of the book deals with neuroscientists whose expertise covered non-movement disorder domains, but nonetheless, these entries will attract the attention of movement disorder neurologists with a consciousness of the history of our larger neurological discipline.
One weakness is the oversight of attempts at gender balance, and several women of major historical importance are omitted (Augusta Klumpke, Margaret Hoehn, Sarah McNutt, Mary Calkins, among several other possible candidates). Overall, the material is largely drawn on secondary sources, and I did not find extensive information unavailable elsewhere, but the compilation is very readable and provides an excellent group of interesting essays, perfect for introducing history to younger readers and also a fine refresher course for older specialists.