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Henry Hun (1854–1924)
  1. VA Medical Center, Great Lakes VA Healthcare System, 500 E Veterans Street, Tomah, Wisconsin 54660, USA
  2. Douglas.Lanska{at}

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    Neurology in upper New York State was pioneered by the Hun family.1 Thomas Hun MD (1808-unknown), the neurological patriarch, completed medical studies at the University of Pennsylvania and spent 6 years of postgraduate study in Europe.1 On his return, he helped found the Albany Medical College (1839), where he was appointed Professor of the Institutes of Medicine. Long before neurology was a recognised specialty in the United States, he gave lectures on the nervous system, held weekly neurological clinics with medical students, and stimulated his sons Edward and Henry to pursue neurological careers.

    Edward Reynolds Hun MD (1842–1880), the eldest son, graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1866 and practiced in Albany.2 He was appointed pathologist to the New York State Lunatic Asylum at Utica, and in 1876 accepted the Chair of Diseases of the Nervous System at Albany Medical College. Edward was one of the 35 original members of the American Neurological Association, founded in 1875. Unfortunately, he died prematurely.

    Henry Hun MD (1854–1924) graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1879 and spent more than 2 years of postgraduate study, encompassing Vienna, Heidelberg, Berlin, Paris, and London.2 His interest in neurology was further stimulated by exposure to Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–93) at the Salpêtrière Hospital. On return, he was appointed Professor of Diseases of the Nervous System in the Albany Medical College (1884–1914). He wrote several treatises, includingA guide to American medical students in Europe (1883), Syllabus of a course of lectures on the diseases of the nervous system (1901/1902; 1907), and An atlas of the differential diagnosis of the nervous system (1913; 1914; 1922). He also served as President of the Association of American Physicians (1910), and President of the American Neurological Association (1914).

    Henry Hun is now most often recognised for his detailed clinicopathological description of the lateral medullary syndrome. Hun's 1897 report included a very detailed (albeit delayed) pathological report from the neuropathologist Ira Van Gieson (1866–1913) after the patient's death in 1893.3 Hun's 53 year old patient had acutely developed ipsilateral ptosis and anhidrosis (but reportedly not miosis), diplopia, ipsilateral analgesia and thermanaesthesia of the face, dysphagia, dysphonia, dysarthria, ipsilateral appendicular ataxia, postural instability with a tendency to fall toward the side of the lesion, gait ataxia, contralateral analgesia and thermanaesthesia of the body, and vomiting. Pathological findings included extensive posterior circulation atherosclerosis, affecting especially the basilar artery, and infarction of the rostral lateral medulla, encompassing the descending trigeminal nucleus and tract, the nucleus ambiguous, the lateral spinothalamic tract, the ventral spinocerebellar tract, fasciculi of the glossopharyngeal and vagal nerves, and the inferior cerebellar peduncle. Hun concluded that the manifestations resulted from left posterior inferior cerebellar artery occlusion. Hun's report was partially preceded by Adolf Wallenberg's detailed clinical (but not pathological) description in 1895,4 5 and both of these reports were partially anticipated by others.4 5 Based on his knowledge of neuroanatomy, Wallenberg had correctly localised his patient's lesion to the lateral medulla and attributed it to occlusion of the ipsilateral posterior inferior cerebellar artery,4 but it was not until 1901, 4 years after Hun's clinicopathological report, that Wallenberg reported the pathological findings on his patient, who died in 1899.6


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