Capsule

Old specimens yield new clues to disease

Old specimens yield new clues to disease

A reunion visit leads to a search for genetic clues to a brain disorder

Four years ago, when Maya Lodish, M.D. ’03, and her young daughter visited the Cushing Center for a scavenger hunt at Lodish’s class reunion, both were struck by the unfamiliar, even eerie setting—and its contents. Soft warm lighting illuminated hundreds of jars containing brains and tumors excised in the last century by Harvey Cushing, M.D.Known as America’s father of successful neurosurgery, Cushing introduced practices a century ago that reduced an 80 percent mortality rate to 8 percent, according to Dennis D. Spencer, M.D., the Harvey and Kate Cushing Professor of Neurosurgery and former chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. Cushing also procured many, many brains for future research.Today, those...

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