Celebrating 150 Years of Advances and Achievements


The Department of Neurology of the University of Pennsylvania founded in 1871 by Dr. Horatio Wood, is the oldest neurology department in the country with a history of excellence in patient care, research and education in both adult and pediatric neurology. Today, Penn Neurology faculty members are engaged in groundbreaking research and clinical trials involving many complex neurological disorders. The Department includes over 143 full-time and associated faculty with a full range of clinical activities.

See our interactive timeline.


1860 — 1871

Pre 1871


1871 — 1900

Horatio C. Wood, Chair


Motor and sensory areas in the brain were distinct

Charles Mills delineates how motor and sensory areas in the brain were distinct and used electrical stimulation to help localize functions of specific regions in the brain.



1900 — 1915

Charles Mills, Chair


1915 — 1937

William G. Spiller, Chair


Philadelphia Orthopedic Hospital and Infirmary for Nervous Diseases merges into the University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Orthopedic Hospital and Infirmary for Nervous Diseases, a leading center for neurologic research in the early 20th century, merged into the University of Pennsylvania.

1937 — 1942

Williams Cadwalader, Chair


1942 — 1962

George D. Gammon, Chair


1962 — 1967

G. Milton Shy, Chair

Isotope Brain Scanning, and then Positron Emission Tomographic brain scanning were developed. The basic work for PET was done at Penn by David Kuhl.

Dr. Shy’s appointment at Penn represented the first ‘full time’, i.e. fully-salaried faculty position in a clinical department at the University of Pennsylvania.

1963: Assassination of President John F. Kennedy


Valium introduced Measles vaccine released Plasmapheresis procedure was perfected at the National Cancer Institute, NIH


It was expected that each of the Neurology faculty at Penn would be engaged in research as well as clinical activities and teaching – the origin of the ‘triple threat’ faculty member.  This approach represented the beginnings of translational research in academic departments of neurology in the U.S.

1964: Civil Rights Act of 1964
1965: Medicare enacted


Dr. Shy’s exploration of muscle biopsies via light microscopy, together with Dr. Gonatas’ expertise in electron microscopy yielded the original descriptions of several mitochondrial myopathies, assigned names by Dr. Gonatas such as ‘Nemaline myopathy, Megaconial myopathy and Pleoconial myopathy’.



1967 — 1973

Lewis R. Rowland, Chair

1st Heart Transplant by Christiaan Barnard in South Africa

Dr. Audrey Penn joined the faculty at Penn as an instructor. In 1972, she was promoted to Associate Professor, becoming the first woman of color on faculty in the Neurology department.



1974 — 1982

Arthur K. Asbury, Chair


1982 — 1994

Donald H. Silberberg, Chair


1995 — 1999

Robert L. Barchi, Chair


1999 — 2010

Francisco González-Scarano, Chair

Merger and expansion of PAH and HUP neurology residencies

Merger of PAH and HUP neurology residencies and sequential expansion to 9 adult residents/year by 2010

1999: King Hussein of Jordan dies after ruling for 46 years; Columbine High School murders; Nelson Mandela retires as president of South Africa - succeeded by Thabo Mbeki; Military coup led by Gen. Pervez Musharraf overthrows Pakistani government; China launches first spacecraft.
2001: 9/11; George Bush Elected as 43rd President
2003: Invasion of Iraq
2004: Death of Ronald Reagan; Spirit lands on Mars successfully
2005: Hurricane Katrina floods New Orleans; London Bombing


Dr. Jackie French becomes first female professor of Neurology

firsts, diversity
2006: N. Korea conducts its 1st nuclear test; Pluto denoted to “dwarf planet” status
2007: Apple debuts the iphone
2008: Barak Obama elected president


More than 50% of the residency class was female

academics, diversity
2009: Death of Michael Jackson
2010: Haiti earthquake; Apple debuts ipad


2012 — present

Frances Elizabeth Jensen, Chair

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