H. Houston Merritt, MD is widely considered the father of Neurology, by now however, it may be more accurate to say he is the Grandfather of Neurology. In the 12th edition of his famous textbook, Merritt’s Neurology, the editors refer to recent contributors as his “intellectual children and grandchildren.”
Among these were four neurosurgeons from the The Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York. They included:
- Paul C. McCormick
- Dr. Peter D. Angevine
- Dr. Neil A. Feldstein
Merritt’s Neurology was first published in 1955 with Dr. Merritt as the sole author. He continued to write, revise and expand the text as the field of neurology grew, accepting contributions only for the fifth and sixth editions, before he died in 1979. In the preface of the 12th edition the editors wrote:
“The seventh edition, published and edited by Lewis P. Rowland in 1984, was prepared by seventy of Merritt’s students.
Thirty of them headed neurology departments and others had become distinguished clinicians, teachers and investigators.
That edition was a landmark in the history of neurology. It documented the human legacy of a singular leader[.]” 12th edition Merritt’s Neurology
Years earlier, in 1948, when Dr. Merritt joined the faculty of the Neurological Institute he was already well known for his accomplishments including the introduction (with his colleague Tracy Putnam) of the drug dilantin to control seizures in patients with epilepsy.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Merritt mentored hundreds of physicians, and in the end that was probably his greatest achievement. More than 30 years have passed since his death and his proteges have themselves become mentors who’s students in turn are teaching a whole new generation of neurologists and neurosurgeons.
Spine specialists Drs. Paul C. McCormick, Director of The Spine Hospital, and Peter D. Angevine were joined by Dr. Christopher E. Mandigo in sharing their breadth of knowledge in Merritt’s next edition (13th).
Three of these neurosurgeons joined forces to produce a chapter about spinal cord injury. The fourth, Dr. McCormick, served as the section editor of a group of chapters about other spinal cord disorders. He also contributed to two chapters about spinal diseases.
Originally published Jan 29, 2010
Updated April 12, 2017