Charles édouard Brown-Séquard

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Brown-Séquard, Charles édouard


Born Apr. 8, 1817, on the island of Mauritius; died Apr. 2, 1894, in Sceaux. French physiologist and neuropathologist. Received his education at the University of Paris. Worked several years in the United States and England. Corresponding member of the French Medical Academy from 1868. Professor at the Collège de France (Paris) from 1878.

Brown-Séquard’s main research dealt with the physiology and pathology of the central nervous system. He described an intersecting sensory pathway in the brain (Brown-Séquard’s tract) and studied the varied phenomena occurring in unilateral lesions of the spinal cord (Brown-Séquard’s paralysis). He wrote on the composition of blood and the function of the adrenals. In 1889 he reported on the “rejuvenating” effect on the body of extracts from animal testes, by which he sought to confirm his previously expounded theory concerning the internal secretion of organs. After injecting himself with these extracts, he noticed an improvement in his general condition and increased intellectual and sexual activity. Later on it was discovered that such activity is followed by a loss of physical strength and progressive infirmity.


Exposé des effets produits chez l’homme par des injections souscutanées d’un suc retiré des testicules d’animaux vivants ou venant de mourir. Paris, 1890.


Olmsted, J. M. D. Charles-Edouard Brown-Séquard: A Nineteenth Century Neurologist and Endocrinologist. Baltimore, 1946.
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Charles-Edouard Brown-Sequard was born exactly two hundred years ago, as I write this eulogy, and lived a life that is unmatched in terms of fame and fortune, scientific achievement, academic posts and honours, pioneering research, and field-changing discovery, counterbalanced by hardship, displacement, ridicule, penury, racial discrimination, political persecution and personal tragedy.
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