On June 19-23, 2018 the Dittrick will host the 23rd Congress of the International Society for the History of Neurosciences (ISHN; est. 1995). This came about through the current ISHN President, Douglas Lanska, who did his neurology residency and fellowship in Cleveland in the 1980s. Doug and his wife Mary Jo cherish fond memories of their time in Cleveland; he also valued the impactful mentoring received from Peter Whitehouse, Robert Daroff, and Joe Foley. As President, Doug chose Cleveland as the venue for the 2018 ISHN Congress, and we are very pleased to welcome Doug and his colleagues to our city.
During his residency, Doug and I co-authored an article in the Archives of Neurology on the therapeutic fad of suspension therapy for tabes dorsalis. The fate of suspension therapy for syphilis care proved to be a cautionary tale, of initial uncritical enthusiasm and meteoric rise, followed by star-studded endorsements by Charcot and de la Tourette, succeeded by more clear-eyed and level-headed assessments that discredited the practice. The unexpected positive spin-off was that Doug and I became friends, and he delved into medical history while pursuing a career in neurology.
The ISHN meeting brings together individuals from across the world to discuss the history of the neurosciences. In his invitation to ISHN members, Doug referenced the “many outstanding clinicians and neuroscientists who have expanded our understanding of neurological disorders” in Cleveland. He has also woven the meeting around the strengths of the Dittrick and tapped local talent for some presentations. For the Frank Clifford Rose Memorial Lecture I’ll be discussing the neurology instruments in the Dittrick collections, and composing a guide to collections at other museums where such instruments may be seen and studied. Doug will present “new” discoveries among images in Vesalius’s Fabrica (1543 and 1555 editions) for the Christopher U.M. Smith Presidential Lecture, and Peter Whitehouse has been aked to give the Oliver Sacks Memorial Lecture, in which he will explore the work of Theodor Meyner on the nucleus basalis. Additionally, an exhibition tentatively entitled “Re-imagining Dementia” drawing upon many of these themes is taking shape, and will be installed in the Castele temporary exhibition gallery at the Dittrick when the ISHN Congress opens in June.