Dr Oliver Wolf Sacks

Dr Oliver Wolf Sacks

Birth
London, City of London, Greater London, England
Death 30 Aug 2015 (aged 82)
Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 151438715 · View Source
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Physician, Author. A respected and pioneering neurologist, he shall be best remembered for his numerous popular non-fiction books. Born Oliver Wolf Sacks, he was raised in London as a more-or-less observant Jew, was the child of physician parents, and was drawn to medicine early. Sent to a rural boarding school which he hated during the early years of World War II, after the war he studied at London's St. Paul's School then at Queen's College, Oxford from which he received his M.D. in 1958. Following a brief time in Canada, he moved to San Francisco where he completed his neurology residency at Mt. Zion Hospital, then took further training at UCLA before relocating to New York in 1965 where, after finding that he was not cut-out for research, he accepted a position at the chronic care facility of Beth Abraham Hospital in The Bronx. There, Dr. Sacks encountered a number of patients with encephalitis lethargica, the residual victims of a four-decade-earlier encephalitis epidemic who had been left completely rigid and catatonic. Reasoning that there was residual function left in these individuals, he began giving them small doses of L-dopa, a then new Parkinson's Disease drug which has miracle results in some patients and intolerable side effects in others. The results were mixed, whith some showing no benefit and others experiencing a complete remission of symptoms, though some, but not all, of the latter did regress to their former state. In 1970, Dr. Sacks published his first book entitled "Migraine", a basic study of a common condition treated by virtually all doctors, though 'cured' by none, then in 1973 he followed with "Awakenings", a recounting of his experiences with encephalitis lethargica which was turned into a 1990 Academy Award nominated film starring Robin Williams as Dr. Sacks. A longtime professor at New York University's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, he maintained a busy practice and kept writing, 1n 1985 publishing "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat", possibly his best-known work, the title character a patient exhibiting prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces, with other case studies describing Korsakoff's Syndrome (alcoholic dementia), autistic savant syndrome occuring in twins, and oither rare conditions. While continuing his clinical and academic work, he kept writing, his books including the 1989 "Seeing Voices", a look at deafness, 1995's "An Anthropologist on Mars", the story of an autistic university professor, and the 2008 "Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain", a piece which drew on his own lifelong love for music, his skills as a top level pianist, and his long advocacy of music therapy. Diagnosed with choroidal melanoma of his right eye in 2001, he underwent treatment which took the sight of that eye, but which was thought at that time to have cured his cancer. In 2007, he became professor of Psychiatry and neurology at Columbia, there concentrating primarily on treatment of seizure disorders, though in 2012 he returned to New York University where he remained until his death; his honors were many, among them 1996 election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, being made Honorary Fellow of Queens College Oxford in 1999, 2002 receipt of membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2008 designation as Commander of the Order of the British Empire for Services to Literature, and many honorary doctorates. Diagnosed with terminal cancer due to hepatic metastasis of his melanoma in January of 2015, he remained active as long as he was able. At his death his literary output remained in print and the planet 84928 Oliversacks had carried his name since 2003.

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 30 Aug 2015
  • Find A Grave Memorial 151438715
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Oliver Wolf Sacks (9 Jul 1933–30 Aug 2015), Find A Grave Memorial no. 151438715, ; Maintained by Bob Hufford (contributor 46784943) Unknown.