Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kuru correspondence and more: additions to the Bush-Dow Collection

Just over a year ago, author and researcher Casey Bush donated a collection of materials on prominent Oregon neurologist Robert S. Dow, MD, PhD (Accession 2008-022). Today, Mr. Bush brought us two large notebooks to add to that archive.

One notebook contains about 80 of Dow's reprints, collected by Bush during the course of his research.

The other contains original correspondence between Dow and other prominent researchers of the day, such as Sir John C. Eccles, Masao Ito, I.S. Cooper, and Richard Hornabrook. Many of the letters concern Dow's trip to New Guinea in the fall of 1965 to study kuru--a trip on which his wife accompanied him, having been assured by Hornabrook that "There is certainly no particular haszards [sic] associated with a visit and many people often of advanced age have made the journey here." (He also agreed with Dow's plan to bring only "tropical business clothes with low shoes.")

After Dow's return to Portland in October 1965, he corresponded with executives at Tektronix about corporate sponsorship of a cerebellum symposium and with researchers invited to the event, which took place in May of 1966. Letters arranging other speaking engagements follow, along with more communication with researchers around the country. A tension-filled exchange of missives with Portland colleague Robert Grimm, MD, highlights important aspects of the evolution of local neurology residency programs--and the high stakes of medical politics.

These letters provide a unique insight into the culture of neuroscience research in the 1960s and into the life and career of Dr. Dow. Until such time as the materials are fully processed, inquiries about particulars can be made by emailing us directly.

[Shown here: Eccles to Dow, April 5, 1965. Concerning arrangements for trip to New Guinea, and potential conflict between Dow and Professor Kirikae at the upcoming Tokyo symposium.]

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