Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Born on this Day Controversial Therapy
29 November 2014

Controversial Therapy

The neurologist Egas Moniz, shown here on a Portuguese banknote, was born on this day in 1874. He was the first Portuguese to receive a Nobel Prize, which he was awarded in 1949 “for his discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy in certain psychoses.” Prefrontal leucotomy – now known as lobotomy – is a surgical operation that involves cutting connections between the prefrontal region and other parts of the brain for the treatment of schizophrenia. Since the first schizophrenia drug was introduced in 1952, a highly modified version of leucotomy has been used only in the most extreme of cases. Moniz also developed an imaging technique called cerebral angiography, which produces images of blood vessels in the brain, enabling the detection of abnormalities such as tumours or aneurysms. Moniz was shot in the leg by a patient and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He died in 1955.

Written by Nick Kennedy

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