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Announcing myself to the world of neurology


Work with Feinstein and Levin on Parkinson's disease
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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Before I set out on the bike I worked for a few weeks with Bertram Feinstein and Grant Levin who were neurosurgeons investigating the treatment of Parkinsonism by icing particular parts of the brain. If you knock out part of the... the globus pallidus, they call this pallidectomy, whatever, then... the tremor might get less. It’s an interesting paradoxical situation of damaging the brain in order to... to relieve the patient from some neurological symptoms. And they were generous to me and they would, sort of, give me $20 notes as... and sometimes more and so, really, they... they paid for that and I... I repaid them. I've repaid all my debts financially. I... I was short of money for... for many years. When I got my first car in 1972 I’d only had motorbikes until then. I... I had to get a loan from my brother and, similarly, in 1979 when I got a mortgage on a house in City Island.

Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) was born in England. Having obtained his medical degree at Oxford University, he moved to the USA. There he worked as a consultant neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital where in 1966, he encountered a group of survivors of the global sleepy sickness of 1916-1927. Sacks treated these patients with the then-experimental drug L-Dopa producing astounding results which he described in his book Awakenings. Further cases of neurological disorders were described by Sacks with exceptional sympathy in another major book entitled The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat which became an instant best seller on its publication in 1985. His other books drew on his rich experiences as a neurologist gleaned over almost five decades of professional practice. Sacks's work was recognized by prestigious institutions which awarded him numerous honours and prizes. These included the Lewis Thomas Prize given by Rockefeller University, which recognizes the scientist as poet. He was an honorary fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and held honorary degrees from many universities, including Oxford, the Karolinska Institute, Georgetown, Bard, Gallaudet, Tufts, and the Catholic University of Peru.

Listeners: Kate Edgar

Kate Edgar, previously Managing Editor at the Summit Books division of Simon and Schuster, began working with Oliver Sacks in 1983. She has served as editor and researcher on all of his books, and has been closely involved with various films and adaptations based on his work. As friend, assistant, and collaborator, she has accompanied Dr Sacks on many adventures around the world, clinical and otherwise.

Tags: Bertram Feinstein, Grant Levin

Duration: 1 minute, 24 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012