Harvey Williams Cushing

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Cushing, Harvey Williams

Cushing, Harvey Williams, 1869–1939, American neurosurgeon, b. Cleveland, B.A. Yale, 1891, M.D. Harvard, 1895. Associated with Johns Hopkins (1896–1912), Harvard (1912–32), and Yale (1933–37), he was noted for his great contributions to brain surgery and also as a teacher and an author. For his life of Sir William Osler he won the 1925 Pulitzer Prize in Biography. Among his other works are a famous treatise on the pituitary body, as well as Tumors of the Nervus Acusticus (1917), Intracranial Tumours (1932), and the autobiographical From a Surgeon's Journal, 1915–1918 (1936).


See biographies by J. F. Fulton (1946), E. H. Thomson (1950), and M. Bliss (2005).

Cushing's disease was first described by him. It is a disorder attributed to hyperactivity of the cortex of the adrenal glands and affects women more than men. The symptoms include obesity (moonface, an accumulation of fat at the back of the neck called buffalo hump, and abdominal protrusion), hypertension, hirsutism, and easy bruisability. Treatment is by X-ray therapy if the pituitary body is involved or by surgical removal of one or both adrenal glands.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cushing, Harvey Williams


Born Apr. 8, 1869, in Cleveland; died Oct. 7, 1939, in New Haven. American neurosurgeon, member of the National Academy of Sciences (1914) and the New York Medical Academy (1926).

Cushing received his medical education at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. In 1912 he became a professor there. In 1933 he became a professor of neurology at Yale University in New Haven. His principal works deal with the most important problems of brain surgery and are closely related to physiological investigation: study of the hypophysis, intracranial pressure, meningeal tumors, and electrosurgery of the brain. Cushing proved that the elevation of intracranial fluid pressure leads to the compensatory elevation of vascular pressure (Cushing’s law). He developed a number of neurosurgical methods, including temporal decompression (1905) and a procedure for access to the posterior cranial fossa. He described basophilic adenoma of the pituitary (Cushing’s disease). He was president of a number of American scientific societies and an honorary member of many foreign scientific societies.


Intracranial Tumors. Baltimore, 1932.
Meningiomas, parts 1–2. New York, 1962.


“G. V. Kushing.” Voprosy neirokhirurgii, 1940, vol. 4, nos. 1–2.
Fulton, J. F. Harvey Cushing, a Biography. Springfield (Illinois), 1946.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.