|Duchenne de Boulogne|
We start with Duchenne de Boulogne, a French neurologist in the 1800s, whose understanding of electrophysiology, neural pathways, diagnostic techniques have arguably made him a father of the speciality and one of the 19th century's original clinicians.
Born in Calais in 1805, he studied medicine in Paris and became a physician in 1831. At Paris, he was taught by the likes of Cruveilhier, Dupuytren, Velpeau, and Laennec (inventor of the stethoscope). He remained in Calais as a practitioner of general medicine until his wife died of puerperal fever in 1844. He returned to Paris to initiate his pioneering studies on electrical stimulation of muscles.
He pioneered the use of deep tissue biopsy using a trochar he constructed, and described an array of myopathies that bear his name today. This includes Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, Erb-Duchenne palsy amongst others.
Interestingly, he published a monographic album of the muscles involved in human expressions (see adjacent photo). This album would later serve as a resource for a young Charles Darwin in his own study on the genetics of behaviour.
|Duchenne (right) and his patient, an "old toothless man, with a thin face, whose features, without being absolutely ugly, approached ordinary triviality".|
Duchenne died in Paris in 1875.
Duchenne had many students throughout his career passing down his methodology and theoretical knowledge, as was common for physicians in training the next generation. Perhaps his most famous student was Jean-Martin Charcot, the "founder of modern neurology" who has at least 15 eponymous medical diseases and signs named after him, and perhaps the bane of medical students worldwide. He will be covered in detail next time.
1. Parent A. Duchenne De Boulogne: a pioneer in neurology and medical photography. Canadian journal of neurological sciences. 2005 Aug;32(3):369-77.
2. Broussolle E, Poirier J, Clarac F, Barbara JG. Figures and institutions of the neurological sciences in Paris from 1800 to 1950. Part III: neurology. Revue neurologique. 2012 Apr 1;168(4):301-20.