Golla, Frederick Lucien 1877 - 1968


(1877-1968), neuropsychiatrist

Frederick Lucien Golla was born in Fulham, London on 11 August 1877 to Italian parents Peter Alexander Evasio Golla and Alice Amelia Tingey. He was educated at Tonbridge School and Magdalen College, Oxford, before pursuing medical training at St George’s Hospital, London. He graduated in 1904 and became resident medical officer at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen Square, under surgeon Victor Horsley (1857-1916) and neurologist Gordon Holmes (1876-1965), where he began to pursue research into the human nervous system.

During the First World War, Golla volunteered for field ambulance duty with the Royal Army Medical Corps in August 1914 and was invalided out of the army after contracting bronchial pneumonia in June 1915. In August 1915, he returned to the Royal Army Medical Corps and rose to the rank of captain. His wartime research on tetanus was widely celebrated, leading to his post-war promotion to consultant physician at St George’s Hospital, where he worked on nervous conduction with neurophysiologist Charles Scott Sherrington (1857-1952).

In 1923, Golla was appointed director of the Central Pathological Laboratory at the Maudsley Hospital, London. As well as controlling the educational programme of the Maudsley Hospital medical school, Golla continued to conduct research with junior colleagues. In the 1930s, he collaborated with neurophysiologist William Grey Walter (1910-1977) in pioneering studies of electroencephalography (EEG, the measurement of the electrical activity of the brain), including the first detection of a cerebral tumour using the technique in 1936.

In 1939, Golla was invited to become director of the new Burden Neurological Institute, Bristol, an independent research unit specialising in the investigation and treatment of neurological, psychological, and psychiatric disorders. Under Golla’s direction, the Burden achieved several ‘firsts’ in British psychiatry, including the first trials of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) in 1939 and the first leucotomy (lobotomy) in 1941. He retired from the Burden in 1959.

Golla was married twice, first to Thérèse d'Haussaire in 1908, who fatally contracted bronchial pneumonia while nursing Golla back to health in 1915, and then to Yvonne Lilly Brisco Ray in 1919. He had one daughter, Yolande Golla, who would later co-author research at the Burden Neurological Institute. Golla died of heart failure on 6 February 1968.