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The Cushing Center

Cushing was a Yale undergraduate in the late 1800’s, a Harvard medical student, and then began training in surgery with the great William Halsted at Johns Hopkins in 1896. While at Johns Hopkins, Cushing founded Neurosurgery as an independent specialty, established the concept of the physician scientist, founded Endocrinology through studies of hormones and pituitary tumors, and brought blood pressure monitoring and the use of x-ray imaging into the operating room. Subsequently Cushing was established as Chief of Surgery at the new Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston where for the next twenty-two-years he defined and refined surgery of the brain, concentrating on tumors. In 1933 Cushing decamped to New Haven and became Sterling Professor at his old alma mater, Yale, bringing 17,000 volumes of rare medical and scientific books, 650 preserved brains, and 15,000 photographs of his patients cared for at the Brigham.

The center is an architectural masterpiece designed by Turner Brooks, B.A. & M. Arch., Yale University. Opened on June 5, 2010, it houses The Cushing Tumor Registry, an archival collection of over 2,200 case studies which includes human whole brain and tumor specimens, microscopic slides, note books, journal excerpts, and over 15,000 photographic negatives dating from the late 1800’s to 1936. On display in the center are some 450 of the 700 jars of preserved specimens, patient and pathology photographs, and Cushing memorabilia and personal artifacts. There are also 22 discovery drawers, a cabinet of posters, and display cases with rotating exhibits from the Historical Library including Cushing, John Fulton, and Arnold Kleb’s rare book collection ranging from 12th century incunabula to works from the early 20th century.

Terry Dagradi is the archivist for the collection and she and/or Dr. Dennis Spencer, Professor of Neurosurgery, can be contacted for private tour, although the center is open to all on a daily basis.

Contact Us:

Terry Dagradi: (203) 824-0625

Dr. Dennis Spencer

Cushing's Brains

This brief video produced by Doug Forbush and the Yale Broadcast and Media Center tells the story of one of the most important names in neurosurgery: Dr. Harvey Cushing. How did his unique collection of medical specimens come to reside at the new Cushing Center at the Yale School of Medicine?