Ramon y Cajal


At 1:00 AM -0500 2/27/03, J. A. Kiernan wrote:
>Cajal (1852-1934) was a Nobel prize winner, but he died 8 years
>before the first immunohistochemical method and about 40 years
>before colloidal gold labelling of antibodies.

Ramon y Cajal was one of my heros and one of Spain's greatest 
products. His autobiography makes great reading if you can find a 
copy. Cajal [ka-HALL] did all of the basic work on the microscopic 
structure of the nervous system and his efforts have never been 
bettered. His many papers and books still make worthwhile reading and 
will give you a necessary perspective about the CNS that can be 
gotten nowhere else.

He started his life as a photographer which was being invented and 
explored in his youth. His great insight was applying the chemistry 
of photography to staining cells the the brain. Sections were cut by 
hand with razors and floated in glass cups while being impregnated 
1st with silver salts- just like photo papers were impregnated by 
hand. Later he used other metals like gold for his many staining 

His main problem was being Spanish, he was outside the hegemony of 
19th century European science. If he had been British, French or 
German his name would be as well known as Pasteur, Ehrlich or Curie.

I still keep a picture of Ramon at his microscope by my scope at 
work. It encourages humility ;-)


Wm F Blank MD
Heartland Laboratory, Inc
Chaffee, MO 63740

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