James M. Sprague
James M. Sprague, the Joseph Leidy Professor Emeritus of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, passed away Dec. 29, 2002. He joined the faculty in 1950 and remained at the School of Medicine until his retirement in 1983.
Sprague received the Lindback Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1966, and was one of the pioneers in the anatomy, physiology, and function of the brain. In 1953 he co-founded, and later served as director (1973-80) of, Penn's Institute of Neurological Sciences, today a major center for brain studies.
From 1968 to 1975, Sprague served as chair of the old Department of Anatomy, now the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. He is best known for is his work in the 1960s, discovering what has since been called the Sprague Effect: blindness caused by large cortical lesions can be reversed, and sight restored, by a subsequent lesion in the midbrain. This and other classic research opened up a whole field of inquiry on the structure and function of specific areas of the brain.
In 1974, Sprague received a faculty award from the Josiah Macy Foundation, which enabled him to continue a long-lasting collaboration with the Institute of Physiology of the University of Pisa in Italy. Over the years he collaborated extensively with Belgian and Italian colleagues, both before and after retirement. In 1970, he was a member of the founding council of the Society for Neuroscience. Sprague's lifelong research was rewarded by election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1983.
(courtesy of The Pennsylvania Gazette)
Read James M. Sprague's chapter in The History of Neuroscience in Autobiography Volume 1.