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March 2017

Harvey Cushing, MD—A Neurosurgeon’s Contributions to Cutaneous Pathology

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, Tampa
  • 2University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
JAMA Dermatol. 2017;153(3):314. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.0528

Harvey Williams Cushing, MD, was born on April 8, 1869, in Cleveland, Ohio, as the youngest of 10 siblings. He attended Cleveland Manual Training School as a child, where he learned carpentry, metal work, and machinery skills that would later help him develop his technical abilities as a surgeon. Cushing came from a family with 3 generations of physicians, and he began his medical career at Harvard Medical School in 1891. Cushing trained at numerous institutions, including Massachusetts General Hospital, where he trained under John Wheelock Elliot, MD, who directed his attention to surgery of the brain. Through these experiences Cushing helped establish neurological surgery over the length of his career as a viable medical specialty and earned the title of “the father of modern neurosurgery.” He faced adversity from critics who did not believe in the viability of brain surgery; however, he found constant encouragement from William Osler, MD (1849-1919), whose mentorship helped him push the boundaries of surgical innovation.1