Brains in jars at the Cushing Center in the Yale Medical Library


Sitting quietly in jars in a custom-built room at Yale’s medical library are 550 human brains. The collection once belonged to pioneering neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing, who preserved the brains from 1903 to 1932 as part of his tumor registry. When Cushing died in 1939, his undergraduate alma mater Yale inherited the brains.

Cushing was among a handful of doctors operating on the brain during the early 20th century. At the time, about a third of patients who underwent brain tumor surgery did not survive the operation. Cushing introduced practices that dramatically lowered the mortality rate, such as monitoring blood pressure during surgery and operating with a local anesthesic instead of ether. He was also the first to use x-rays to diagnose brain tumors.


Read the entire article here: Brains in jars at the Cushing Center in the Yale Medical Library.

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