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July 2010

A Tribute to Walter Shelley, a Pioneer Itch Researcher (1917-2009)

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown (Dr Lerner); and Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina (Dr Yosipovitch).

Arch Dermatol. 2010;146(7):788. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2010.97

Walter Brown Shelley, or “Shelley,” died January 30, 2009, one week shy of his 92nd birthday (Figure). His life was replete with stories, eagerly shared, showing his passion for people and dermatology.1 One of his major interests was pruritus. His groundbreaking work2,3 has become a hot topic in biomedicine with the identification of nonhistaminergic neural pathways in peripheral and spinal neurons in primates and humans.4,5 These findings now provide novel therapeutic targets. Perhaps the sensory fibers that signal itch should be called Shelley fibers.

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