Harvey Williams Cushing
Harvey Williams Cushing (April 8, 1869 – October 7, 1939) was an
American neurosurgeon, pathologist, writer and draftsman. A pioneer of
brain surgery, he was the first exclusive neurosurgeon and the first
person to describe Cushing's disease. He wrote a biography of William
Osler in three volumes. Together with Ernest Sachs, he is known as the
Father of Neurosurgery.
1 Early life
3 Early career
4 First World War
5 Later career
8 Trained under Cushing
10 See also
12 External links
Harvey Cushing was born in Cleveland, Ohio. His parents were Elizabeth
Maria "Betsey M." Williams and Henry Kirke Cushing, a physician
whose ancestors came to Hingham, Massachusetts, as Puritans in the
17th century. Harvey was the youngest of ten children.
As a child, Cushing attended the
Cleveland Manual Training School
which expanded his interest in science and medicine. The school’s
emphasis on experimental training and a “physics-focused” approach
to education played an important role in influencing Cushing towards a
career in medical surgery. The school's manual dexterity training
program also contributed to Cushing’s future success as a
He graduated with an
A.B. degree in 1891 from Yale University, where
he was a member of
Scroll and Key
Scroll and Key and
Delta Kappa Epsilon
Delta Kappa Epsilon (Phi
chapter). He studied medicine at
Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School and earned his
medical degree in 1895. Cushing completed his internship at
Massachusetts General Hospital and then did a residency in surgery
under the guidance of pioneering surgeon
William Stewart Halsted
William Stewart Halsted at
Johns Hopkins Hospital
Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
After doing exceptional cerebral surgery abroad under Kocher at Bern
and Sherrington at Liverpool, he began private practice in Baltimore.
During his time with Kocher, he first encountered the Cushing reflex
which describes the relationship between blood pressure and
intracranial pressure. At the age of 32, he was made associate
professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and was placed in full
charge of cases of surgery of the central nervous system. Yet he found
time to write numerous monographs on surgery of the brain and spinal
column and to make important contributions to bacteriology. He made
(with Kocher) a study of intracerebral pressure and (with Sherrington)
contributed much to the localization of the cerebral centers. In
Baltimore, he developed the method of operating with local
anaesthesia, and his paper on its use in hernia gave him a European
reputation. In 1911, he was appointed surgeon-in-chief at the Peter
Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. He became a professor of surgery
Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School starting in 1912. In 1913, he was
made an honorary
F.R.C.S. (London). He was elected a Fellow of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1914. In 1915, before the
Clinical Congress of Surgeons in Boston, he showed the possibility of
influencing stature by operating on the pituitary gland.
First World War
Shortly after the entry of the
United States into the First World War,
Cushing was commissioned as a major in the
U.S. Army Medical Corps
U.S. Army Medical Corps on
May 5, 1917. He was director of the U.S. base hospital attached to the
British Expeditionary Force in France. Cushing also served as the head
of a surgical unit in a French military hospital outside of Paris.
During his time at the French military hospital, Cushing experimented
with the use of electromagnets to extract fragments of metallic
missile shrapnel that were lodged severely within the brain. He was
mentioned in a dispatch by Field Marshal Sir
Douglas Haig in November
On June 6, 1918, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was
assigned as senior consultant in neurological surgery for the American
Expeditionary Forces in Europe. He attained the rank of Colonel (O-6)
on October 23, 1918. In that capacity, he treated Lieutenant Edward
Revere Osler, who was fatally wounded during the third battle of
Ypres. Lieutenant Osler was the son of Sir William Osler.
Cushing returned to the
United States in February 1919 and was
discharged on April 9 of the same year. In recognition of his service
during the war, Cushing was invested as a Companion of the Bath by the
British government. In 1923 he was awarded the Distinguished
Service Medal by the U.S. Army.
Cushing authored the Pulitzer prize-winning biography, Life of Sir
William Osler (London: Oxford University Press, 1925).
From 1933 to 1937, when he retired, he worked at the Yale School of
Sterling Professor of Neurology.
Cushing died on October 7, 1939 in New Haven, Connecticut, from
complications of a myocardial infarction. He was interred at
Lake View Cemetery
Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland. Interestingly, an autopsy
performed on Cushing revealed that his brain harbored a colloid cyst
of the third ventricle.
In the beginning of the 20th century, Dr. Cushing developed many of
the basic surgical techniques for operating on the brain. This
established him as one of the foremost leaders and experts in the
field. Under his influence neurosurgery became a new and autonomous
Historical marker at Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland
He considerably improved the survival of patients after difficult
brain operations for intracranial tumors.
He used X-rays to diagnose brain tumors.
He used electrical stimuli for study of the human sensory cortex.
He played a pivotal role in development of the Bovie electrocautery
tool with William T. Bovie, a physicist.
He was the world's leading teacher of neurosurgeons in the first
decades of the 20th century.
Arguably, Cushing's greatest contribution came with his introduction
to North America of blood pressure measurement. Upon visiting
colleague Scipione Riva-Rocci, an Italian physician, Cushing was
astonished by Riva-Rocci's non-invasive way of measuring
intra-arterial pressure. In 1896, Riva-Rocci developed a wall-mounted
mercury manometer linked to a balloon-inflated cuff that would measure
the pressure needed to compress arterial systolic pressure, i.e.
systolic blood pressure measurement. Riva-Rocci's design was based on
a more primitive version developed by French physician Pierre Potain.
Cushing returned to the USA with a sample of Riva-Rocci's
sphygmomanometer and blood pressure measurement became a vital sign.
The use of the Riva-Rocci sphygmomanometer as a diagnostic tool
rapidly spread across the US and western world, a direct contribution
by Harvey Cushing. The device's use continued until Russian physician
Nikolai Korotkov included diastolic blood pressure measurement in 1905
(after he discovered the famed "Korotkoff sounds") with his improved
sphygmomanometer, which also replaced the mercury manometer with a
smaller, round dial manometer.
Dr. Harvey Cushing, 1908; oil on canvas, Edmund C. Tarbell
Cushing's name is commonly associated with his most famous discovery,
Cushing's disease. In 1912 he reported in a study an endocrinological
syndrome caused by a malfunction of the pituitary gland which he
termed "polyglandular syndrome." He published his findings in 1932 as
"The Basophil Adenomas of the Pituitary Body and Their Clinical
Manifestations: pituitary Basophilism".
Cushing was also awarded the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or
Autobiography for a book recounting the life of one of the fathers of
modern medicine, Sir William Osler. In 1930, Cushing was awarded
Lister Medal for his contributions to surgical science. As part of
the award, he delivered the Lister Memorial Lecture at the Royal
College of Surgeons of England in July 1930. Cushing was
elected to the
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1934, and a Fellow
of the Royal Society of London. He served as president of the
History of Science Society
History of Science Society in 1934. Cushing was also a candidate
for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, nominated at least 38
In 1988, the
United States Postal Service issued a 45-cent postage
stamp in his honor, as part of the Great Americans series.
Cushing ventricular cannula
Cushing developed many surgical instruments that are in use today,
most notably Cushing forceps and the Cushing ventricular cannula. The
forceps instrument is used to grasp the thick tissues of the scalp
during cranial surgery and the cannula is used to enter the brain
ventricles for CSF drainage. He also developed a surgical magnet while
working with the Harvard Medical Unit in
France during World War I to
extract shrapnel from the heads of wounded soldiers.
The Harvey Cushing/
John Hay Whitney
John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale
University contains extensive collections in the field of medicine and
the history of medicine. In 2005, the library released portions of its
collection online, including the Peter Parker Collection which
consists of a collection of portrait engravings and 83
mid-19th-century oil paintings rendered by artist
Lam Qua of Chinese
tumor patients, and a biography of
Harvey Cushing by John F. Fulton.
In 2010, Yale placed on display Cushing's collection of brain
specimens. There is also a collection of his papers at the
National Library of Medicine.
He married Katharine Stone Crowell, a
Cleveland childhood friend, on
June 10, 1902. They had five children:
William Harvey Cushing
Mary Benedict Cushing, who married
Vincent Astor and later James
Betsey Cushing, who married
James Roosevelt and later John Hay
Henry Kirke Cushing
Barbara "Babe" Cushing, the socialite wife of Stanley Grafton Mortimer
and later William S. Paley.
Trained under Cushing
Walter Dandy, the first pediatric neurosurgeon and the developer of
Prof. Leo M. Davidoff, founder of the Department of Neurological
Surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Prof. Norman Dott
Wilder Penfield, pioneer neurosurgeon and founder of the Montreal
The Pituitary Body and its Disorders (1912)
Tumours of the Nervus Acousticus (1917)
Blood Vessel Tumours of the Brain (1928)
Consecratio Medici and other papers (1928)
The Medical Career (1940)
A Visit to Le Puy-En-Velay (1945)
History of medicine
Timeline of medicine and medical technology
^ Witters, Lee A. (Winter 2007). "A Diligent Effort". Dartmouth
Medicine. p. 3. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
^ Lincoln, Solomon Jr.; Gill, Caleb Jr. History of the Town of
Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Farmer and Brown, Hingham,
^ Fulton, John.
Harvey Cushing A Biography. Springfield, Illinois.
^ a b c Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Cushing, Harvey".
Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.).
London & New York.
^ a b c "Brainman". Time. April 17, 1939. Retrieved March 21,
^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter C" (PDF). American Academy of
Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 14, 2011.
^ Ellis, H (2012). "Harvey Cushing: Cushing's disease". Journal of
perioperative practice. 22 (9): 298–9. PMID 23101174.
^ a b Harvard's Military Record during the World War. Harvard Alumni
Association. 1921. pg. 238.
^ Starling, P H (March 2003). "The case of Edward Revere Osler".
Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps. 149 (1): 27–29.
doi:10.1136/jramc-149-01-05. PMID 12743923.
^ Decorations of the
United States Army, 1862-1926. War Department.
Office of the Adjutant General. Washington. 1927. pg. 693.
^ "Dr. Cushing Dead; Brain Surgeon, 70. A Pioneer Who Won Fame as
Founder of New School of Neuro-Surgery. Discovered Malady Affecting
Pituitary Gland. Was Noted Teacher and Author". The New York Times.
October 8, 1939. Retrieved March 21, 2010.
^ "Services for
Surgeon Held in
Cleveland Cemetery". The New York
Times. October 11, 1939. Retrieved March 22, 2010. Harvey Williams
Cushing, noted brain surgeon and neurologist, who died in New Haven,
Conn., on Saturday, was buried here today on a knoll, a plot adjoining
that of John D. Rockefeller, in Lake View Cemetery. Burial a brief
private service read by the Rev. ...
^ Mangione, Salvatore (2000) Physical Diagnosis Secrets. Hanley &
Belfus. ISBN 1560531649
^ Cushing, Harvey (1932). "The basophil adenomas of the pituitary body
and their clinical manifestations (pituitary basophilism)". Bulletin
of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. 50: 137–95. Reprinted in
Cushing, Harvey (April 1969). "The basophil adenomas of the pituitary
body and their clinical manifestations (pituitary basophilism)". Ann R
Coll Surg Engl. 44 (4): 180–1. PMC 2387613 .
^ Cushing, Harvey (1925). The Life of Sir William Osler. Oxford:
Clarendon Press. OCLC 268160.
^ The lecture is available at: Neurohypophysial mechanisms from a
clinical standpoint Cushing, H., Lancet (Lond.), 1930, ii, 119–147;
^ For a picture of Cushing's Lister Medal, and an offprint of the
lecture, see Harvey Cushing,
December 31, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. ehistorybuff.com (accessed
February 17, 2009)
^ Cannon, W. B. (1941). "Harvey (Williams) Cushing". Obituary Notices
of Fellows of the Royal Society. 3 (9): 276–290.
History of Science Society
History of Science Society "The Society: Past Presidents of the
History of Science Society" Archived December 12, 2013, at the Wayback
Machine., accessed December 4, 2013
^ Hansson N, Schlich T (2015). "Highly Qualified Loser"? Harvey
Cushing and the Nobel Prize". J Neurosurg. 122 (4): 976–79.
Scott catalog # 2188.
^ Digital Library Collections of the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library
Archived May 29, 2005, at the Wayback Machine. at Yale University
^ "Inside Neurosurgery's Rise". The New York Times. August 23,
Harvey Cushing Correspondence 1930–1939". National Library of
^ "Mary Fosburgh, 72. One of Cushing Sisters and a Leader in Arts.
Raised Funds During War". The New York Times. November 8, 1978.
Retrieved March 21, 2010. Mary Gushing Fosburgh, the eldest of the
socially prominent Cushing sisters and widow of the painter James
Whitney Fosburgh, died Saturday at her home in Manhattan after a long
illness. She was 72 years old and lived at 32 East 64th Street.
^ Nemy, Enid (March 26, 1998). "
Betsey Cushing Whitney Is Dead at 89".
The New York Times. Retrieved March 21, 2010.
Betsey Cushing Roosevelt
Whitney, the widow of John Hay (Jock) Whitney, the first wife of James
Roosevelt and the last of the three glamorous Cushing sisters of
Boston, died yesterday at North Shore University Hospital in
Manhasset, N.Y. She was 89.
^ Nemy, Enid (July 7, 1978). "Barbara Cushing Paley Dies at 63; Style
Pace-Setter in Three Decades; Symbol of Taste". The New York Times.
Retrieved March 21, 2010. Barbara Cushing Paley, the wife of William
S. Paley, the chairman of the board of the Columbia Broadcasting
System, died of cancer at their apartment in New York City yesterday
after a long illness. She was 63 years old.
^ Wisoff HS (2012). "Leo Max Davidoff: his formative years and
participation in the MacMillan Arctic Expedition". J. Neurosurg. 117:
447–54. doi:10.3171/2012.4.JNS111211. PMID 22725989.
^ Cushing, Harvey (1944). A Visit to Le Puy-En-Velay. Cleveland: The
^ "JAMA Book Review: A Visit to Le Puy-En-Velay; 1945". The Journal of
the American Medical Association, 1945;75(2):143. Retrieved November
^ "Cushing as Artist". Yale University, Harvey Cushing/John Hay
Whitney Medical Library, Cushing Center. Retrieved November 7,
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Harvey W. Cushing.
Fulton, John F. Harvey Cushing: A Biography, Charles C. Thomas
(Springfield, Illinois), 1946.
Guide to the
Harvey Williams Cushing
Harvey Williams Cushing Papers, Manuscripts and
Archives[permanent dead link],
Yale University Library
Bliss, Michael. Harvey Cushing: a Life in Surgery, Oxford University
National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir[permanent dead link]
Harvey Cushing: A Journey Through His Life
Harvey Cushing Fonds. Osler Library of the History of Medicine. McGill
Harvey Cushing at
Find a Grave
Find a Grave
Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography
Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography (1926–1950)
Harvey Cushing (1926)
Emory Holloway (1927)
Charles Edward Russell
Charles Edward Russell (1928)
Burton J. Hendrick (1929)
Marquis James (1930)
Henry James (1931)
Henry F. Pringle (1932)
Allan Nevins (1933)
Tyler Dennett (1934)
Douglas S. Freeman
Douglas S. Freeman (1935)
Ralph Barton Perry (1936)
Allan Nevins (1937)
Marquis James (1938)
Carl Van Doren (1939)
Ray Stannard Baker
Ray Stannard Baker (1940)
Ola Elizabeth Winslow (1941)
Forrest Wilson (1942)
Samuel Eliot Morison
Samuel Eliot Morison (1943)
Carleton Mabee (1944)
Russel Blaine Nye (1945)
Linnie Marsh Wolfe (1946)
William Allen White
William Allen White (1947)
Margaret Clapp (1948)
Robert E. Sherwood
Robert E. Sherwood (1949)
Samuel Flagg Bemis (1950)
Presidents of the History of Science Society
Lawrence Joseph Henderson (1924–1925)
James Henry Breasted
James Henry Breasted (1926)
David Eugene Smith
David Eugene Smith (1927)
Edgar Fahs Smith
Edgar Fahs Smith (1928)
Lynn Thorndike (1929)
Henry Crew (1930)
William H. Welch
William H. Welch (1931)
Berthold Laufer (1932)
J. Playfair McMurrich
J. Playfair McMurrich (1933)
Harvey Williams Cushing
Harvey Williams Cushing (1934)
Charles Albert Browne, Jr.
Charles Albert Browne, Jr. (1935–1936)
Chauncey D. Leake (1937–1938)
Henry E. Sigerist
Henry E. Sigerist (1939)
Richard H. Shryock (1940–1942)
Louis Charles Karpinski (1943–1944)
Isaiah Bowman (1944)
Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1945–1946)
John Farquhar Fulton
John Farquhar Fulton (1947–1950)
Harcourt Brown (1951–1952)
Dorothy Stimson (1953–1956)
Henry Guerlac (1957–1960)
I. Bernard Cohen (1961–1962)
Marshall Clagett (1963–1964)
Charles Coulston Gillispie (1965–1966)
C. D. O'Malley (1967–1968)
Thomas Kuhn (1969–1970)
Lynn Townsend White, Jr. (1971–1972)
Erwin N. Hiebert (1973–1974)
John C. Greene
John C. Greene (1975–1976)
Richard S. Westfall
Richard S. Westfall (1977-1978)
Robert P. Multhauf (1979–1980)
Frederic L. Holmes (1981–1982)
Gerald Holton (1983–1984)
Edward Grant (1985–1986)
William Coleman (1987)
Mary Jo Nye
Mary Jo Nye (1988–1989)
Stephen G. Brush (1990–1991)
Sally Gregory Kohlstedt (1992–1993)
David C. Lindberg (1994–1995)
Frederick Gregory (1996–1997)
Albert Van Helden (1998–1999)
Ronald Numbers (2000–2001)
John Servos (2002–2003)
Michael Sokal (2004–2005)
Joan Cadden (2006–2007)
Jane Maienschein (2008–2009)
Paul Lawrence Farber (2010–2011)
Lynn K. Nyhart (2012–2013)
Angela N. H. Creager
Angela N. H. Creager (2014–2015)
Janet Browne (2016–2017)
ISNI: 0000 0001 0917 4240
BNF: cb12368252x (data)