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Collaboration with Ralph Siegel and Bob Wasserman


Ralph Siegel
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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Crick had a young protégé, a neuroscientist called Ralph Siegel, and some months after meeting Crick, I met Ralph Siegel, or perhaps that's too blunt a way of putting it. I, in fact, had been at a concert in Carnegie Hall. I had a notebook with me and I was actually writing in my notebook all through the concert. A few rows behind me, unknown to me, there was Ralph Siegel, and he saw this strange man who wrote in a notebook non-stop all through the concert, and then he realised that he'd seen the man at a visit to the Salk, and Ralph came down and introduced himself. And this was the beginning of a scientific and personal relationship, which was very important, I think, for both of us, and very productive, and alas, ended quite recently when tragically Ralph got a... a brain tumour and died. Ralph was... had heard Crick talking about the colour-blind painter and... and when I said, 'Would you like to meet the man?' he said, 'Yes, very much, if this would be okay with the patient.'

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: Francis Crick, Ralph Siegel

Duration: 1 minute, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012