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CUSHING, HARVEY W.

CUSHING, HARVEY W. (8 Apr. 1869-7 Oct. 1939), son of Betsey M. Williams and HENRY CUSHING, was America's first neurosurgeon. He was born in Cleveland and received his medical degree from Harvard in 1895. He began as a general surgeon, only gradually becoming interested in brain and spinal cord surgery. After study in England and Germany, he became an associate professor of surgery of the central nervous system at Johns Hopkins University, where he came into contact with Sir Wm. Osler, a Canadian physician renowned for his work on malaria, cerebral palsy, and diseases of the spleen, heart, and blood. Cushing later wrote a biography of Osler, which won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1926. From 1912-32, Cushing was professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, and from 1932-37 was the Sterling Professor of Neurology at Yale. Cushing introduced a method of operating on the brain with local anesthesia. Through preoperative studies, the use of tourniquets and silver clips to control bleeding, and checks on blood pressure and oxygen levels, he reduced mortality from brain surgery to 10% when most doctors were losing 33 to 50%. Cushing first used electrocautery in brain surgery, classified brain tumors, and was first to link them with gastric ulcers. An expert on the pituitary gland, in 1931 he discovered a new disease, Cushing's disease, in which the basophil cells of the pituitary are overstimulated. A plaque on PUBLIC SQUARE honors Cushing as America's first neurosurgeon. He married Katherine Crowell. They are buried together in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY. The Cushings had four children: Mary Benedict, Bebey, Henry Kirke, and Barbara.