Cushing, Harvey

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Cushing, Harvey (Williams)

(1869–1939) neurosurgeon; born in Cleveland, Ohio. The fourth generation in his family to become a physician, he showed great promise at Harvard Medical School and in his residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital (1896–1900), where he learned cerebral surgery under William S. Halsted. After studying a year in Europe—on his return, he introduced the blood pressure sphygmomanometer to the U.S.A.—he began a surgical practice in Baltimore while teaching at Johns Hopkins Hospital (1901–11), and gained a national reputation for operations such as the removal of brain tumors. From 1912–32 he was a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and surgeon in chief at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, with time off during World War I to perform surgery for the U.S. forces in France; out of this experience came his major paper on wartime brain injuries (1918). In addition to his pioneering work in performing and teaching brain surgery, he was the reigning expert on the pituitary gland since his 1912 publication on the subject; later he discovered the condition of the pituitary now known as "Cushing's disease." On retiring from Harvard he spent his final years at Yale as professor of neurology and director of studies in the history of medicine; his bequest of his books on this latter field form the basis of Yale's medical history library. America's most admired surgeon in his day, he was a man of many talents, even winning the Pulitzer Prize (1926) for his biography of the man who had greatly influenced his career, The Life of Sir William Osler.