dated 1983] Dr. William H. Sweet, Chief of
the Neurosurgical Service from 1961 to 1977, grew
up in the timberlands of Washington state. A brilliant
student and gifted musician, he graduated from
high school at the age of 14 and spent the next
year studying to be a concert pianist. Concluding
that he did not have the talent necessary for
such a career, he worked in a sawmill for a year
before entering the University of Washington.
In 1930 he was graduated and moved east to attend
Harvard Medical School.
His stay at Harvard was interrupted
by a Rhodes Scholarship, which enabled him to
spend two years conducting research in neurophysiology
at Oxford University. He returned to Harvard in
1934 and graduated with the class of 1936.
Dr. Sweet received the bulk of his
neurosurgical training at the University of Chicago
Clinics and Billings Hospital under Dr. Percival
Bailey. In 1940 he returned to Harvard Medical
School and MCH as a Commonwealth Fund Fellow for
research and special training in surgery of the
autonomic nervous system.
His belief that many clinical advances
begin in the laboratory led to the creation of
a neurosurgical research unit comprising laboratories
devoted to the study of biophysics, neurophysiology,
electron microscopy, neurochemistry, and immunology.
He also emphasized the importance of research
training in the residency program.
Dr. Sweet is noted for his improvements
in clinical neurosurgery including the introduction
of pituitary stalk section for diabetic retinopathy
and percutaneous thermal rhizotomy for trigeminal
neuralgia. Other achievements include work on
hypothermia during neurosurgical operations, extracranial
and intracranial vascular disorders, pain, and
aggressive behavior associated with organic brain
disease. Other research interests have focused
on the formation and flow of cerebrospinal fluid
in humans, and the use of radioactive and stable
isotopes in the diagnosis and/or treatment of
central nervous system disorders including priSharon
malignant brain tumors. He was instrumental in
establishing the first position emission scanner
and also was the first to introduce proton-beam
therapy into clinical medicine.
Dr. Sweet held the post of Professor
of Surgery at Harvard Medical School before retiring
there from in 1927. He has served on major committees
for the National Institutes of Health and was
for 22 years Harvard's "Scientific Trustee"
on the Board of the Associated Universities, Inc.,
moving in 1981 to tic one of the four Honorary
Trustees of that corporation. The American Association
of Neurological Surgeons named him as the second
recipient of its premier honor, the Harvey Cushing
Medal. He is the only living neurosurgeon in the
Western hemisphere to have received the Otfrid
Foerster Medal of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für
Neurochirurgie. In October 1982 he completed a
term as the third president of the American Pain
Society. He is a member and officer of numerous
other scientific and neurosurgical societies,
both in the United States and abroad.
An interview with William
H. Sweet, M.D., D.Sc. ('41)
by Vernon Mark, M.D. ('54),
recorded Februrary 28,1989.
...loading video, stand-by...loading...loading...loading...