Letters to the Editor
The US ‘Debut’ of Santiago Ramon y Cajal's Anatomical Sketches
It was heartwarming and inspiring to read about the NIH exhibit of Santiago Ramón y Cajal's drawings in the December 3 issue (http://bit.ly/NT-cajal). I am writing, however, to correct some misinformation about the debut of these sketches, specifically the statements in the article that the works had been brought to the US for the first time, and that no one from the US had contacted the Cajal Institute before 2012.
In fact, in 1984, the AAN, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Culture of Spain, sponsored a huge exhibit of Cajal's life and works at the AAN Annual Meeting in Boston to mark the 50th anniversary of Cajal's death.
At my request, the exhibit was enthusiastically endorsed by H. Richard Tyler and Lawrence C. McHenry, both of the AAN History of Neurology Section, and approved by the Executive Board of the AAN under the leadership of then-president Nelson Richards. The Cajal Institute in Madrid, directed by Joaquín del Río, and the Ministry of Education and Culture of Spain, led by Javier Solana, a future NATO secretary, with the inestimable help of neurologist and AAN member Alberto Portera of Madrid, underwrote the expenses of the research and inventory of items, as well as the labeling, translation, panel configuration and preparation, transportation, and insurance for the exhibit.
On April 7, 1984, a container comprised of 10 boxes with 32 panels — all neatly arranged in chronological order showing original titles, certificates, medals, photographs, letters, books, microscopes, slides, laboratory tools, drawings, and many other personal items belonging to Cajal — arrived at the AAN meeting venue, weighing in at 2,135 lbs.
That evening, Richard Tyler, his son Ken Tyler (of the Neurology Today editorial board), Larry McHenry, and I spent several hours opening boxes with great care, admiring with awe the treasures from Cajal's life that would be arranged by staff in a memorable exhibit. Needless to say, the exposition was a major success, and many senior neurologists may still remember with emotion the wonders of the display.
—Antonio Culebras, MD, FAAN
SUNY Upstate Medical University Syracuse, NY
THE EDITORS RESPOND: Thank you, Dr. Culebras, for setting the record straight on the true debut of Cajal's work. We apologize for our inadvertent omission of the facts regarding this exhibit.