Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BROWN-SEQUARD, Charles Edouard, physiologist, born in the island of Mauritius in 1818. His father was a sea captain from Philadelphia, whose vessel was lost in an attempt to convey provisions to the inhabitants of Mauritius during a famine, and who married a French lady on the island named Sequard. Their son was carefully educated in Mauritius and sent to Paris to complete his studies. He took the degree of bachelor of letters in 1838 that of Bachelor of Science in 1839, and, pursuing his studies in the school of medicine, received the degree of M.D. in 1846. He devoted himself, after acquiring his profession, to physiological experiments, and made important discoveries. Five prizes were awarded him by the French academy of sciences, and twice he received the queen's grant for the encouragement of science from the British royal society. By the transfusion of defibrinated blood he produced results tending to show that the fibrin in the blood has no value in nutrition, but is an excrementitious product. He discovered that defibrinated and oxygenated blood will restore the irritability of the muscles after a corpse has become rigid; that the blood returns through the veins as venous blood, containing fibrin; and that by injecting it repeatedly into the arteries, after defibrinating and oxygenating it each time, the irritability of the muscles can be maintained for hours. His experiments led him to the conclusion that arterial blood alone is subservient to nutrition, but that venous blood is necessary to produce contractions of the muscles. He conducted a series of experiments on animal heat, by which he fixed the temperature of the human body at 103°--several degrees higher than previous investigators. He found that, in the case of poisons that cause a diminution of temperature, the toxic action can be counteracted to a considerable extent by artificially maintaining the heat of the body. His experiments on the spinal cord led him to the conclusion that the fibres of the posterior or sensory columns of the cord do not connect directly with the brain, but convey impressions to the gray matter of the cord, which transmits them to the brain, and that the fibres intersect within the gray matter, near the point where they enter, and not in the cerebrum or medulla oblongata. The decussation of the motor fibres, those of the anterior column of the spinal cord, he found, on the other hand, is in the medulla oblongata. He experimented likewise on the muscles, on the sympathetic system of nerves and ganglions, and on the effect of the removal of the supra-renal capsules. In May, 1858, he delivered a series of lectures on the nervous system before the royal College of physicians and surgeons in London. In 1864 he was appointed professor of the physiology and pathology of the nervous system at Harvard, and took up his residence in the United States. He held the professorship for four years, and in 1869 returned to France, and was appointed professor of experimental and comparative pathology in the school of medicine in Paris, which chair he held till 1871. In 1858 he established in Paris the "Journal de la physiologic de l'homme et des animaux," which he conducted till 1863. After his return to France in 1869 he founded another journal, called "Archives de la physiologic normale et pathologique." In 1873 he became a practitioner in New York city. In association with Dr. E. C. Seguin he began in that City the publication of a medical journal entitled "Archives of Scientific and Practical Medicine." Eventually he returned to Paris, and on 3 August, 1878, succeeded Claude Bernard in the chair of experimental medicine in the College of France. The same year he was elected to the chair of medicine in the French academy of sciences. His services have been in constant demand as a consulting physician in diseases of the nervous system, to which special branch he has confined his practice. He has been remarkably successful in the treatment of difficult and obscure diseases of the spinal column and the nervous system. In his numerous visits to England and America he has delivered short courses of lectures and instructed private classes of physicians in his discoveries, illustrating them by vivisection. He was elected in 1868 a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Besides special memoirs, he has published "Lectures on the Physiology and Pathology of the Nervous System" (Philadelphia, 1860); "Lectures on Paralysis of the Lower Extremities " (1860); and "Lectures on Nervous Affections " (1873).
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