Edward Albert Schäfer (Sharpey-Schafer) and his contributions to
neuroscience: A tribute on the 150th anniversary of his birth
Elizabeth P. SPARROW and Stanley FINGER
The year 2000 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edward Albert Schäfer, later to become Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer. Affiliated during the last three decades of the 19th century with University College and afterward with Edinburgh University, Schäfer made monumental contributions to the fields of histology, physiology, endocrinology, and practical medicine. Yet he has never been the primary subject of a book or even lengthy paper.
The first part of this presentation will be biographical and will review Schäfer's training and professional life. The second part will deal with his seminal contributions to the neurosciences, which include his: (a) histological research that led him to neuron doctrine a decade before Cajal; (b) stimulation and ablation studies on monkeys that corrected some of Ferrier's faulty cortical localizations and opened new vistas; (c) experiments on adrenal extracts that led to the discovery of chemical transmission; and (d) personal observations on recovery after sensory nerve damage, which revealed serious confounds in the earlier work of Head and others.
Author of many esteemed histology and physiology books, founder of the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Physiology, and mentor to many students who achieved great fame in the neurosciences, Schäfer remained committed to a better medicine based on laboratory science until his death in 1935.
Providence, Rhode Island, USA