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Parkinson's disease — the story of an eponym

Nature Reviews Neurology volume 14, pages 5762 (2018) | Download Citation

Abstract

One of the most prevalent neurodegenerative diseases worldwide is still referred to as 'Parkinson's disease'. The condition is named after James Parkinson who, in 1817, described the shaking palsy (paralysis agitans). In the bicentennial year of this publication, we trace when and why the shaking palsy became Parkinson's disease. The term was coined by William Rutherford Sanders of Edinburgh in 1865 and later entered general usage through the influence of Jean-Martin Charcot and the school that he nurtured at the Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris. Despite a move towards more mechanism-based nosology for many medical conditions in recent years, the Parkinson's disease eponym remains in place, celebrating the life and work of this doctor, palaeontologist and political activist.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank G. Delaunay from the Bibliothèque Charcot (Hôpital de la Pitié Salpêtrière) as well as M.-C. Potier and C. Duyckaerts from the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epinière (Hôpital de la Pitié Salpêtrière) for their help.

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Affiliations

  1. Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Francis Crick Avenue, Cambridge CB2 0QH, UK.

    • Michel Goedert
  2. Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QH, UK.

    • Alastair Compston

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Contributions

Both authors researched data for the article, discussed the content, wrote the article, and reviewed and edited the manuscript before submission.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michel Goedert.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nrneurol.2017.165

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