Denny-Brown, Derek 1901 - 1981

New Zealander

(1901-1981), neurologist

Derek Ernest Denny-Brown was born in Christchurch, New Zealand on 1 June 1901. He was educated at New Plymouth High School before qualifying in medicine at Otago University, Christchurch in 1924. Denny-Brown came to Britain the following year to study at Magdalen College, Oxford, before undertaking a research fellowship with neurophysiologist Sir Charles Scott Sherrington (1857-1952). After this, he became a medical officer and later a registrar at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases and Guy’s Hospital, London. In 1935, he was appointed neurological consultant at both the National Hospital and St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Over the following decade, Denny-Brown held positions at Yale University and Boston City Hospital, and also served in the British Army during the Second World War (1939-1945). In 1946, he became James Jackson Putnam Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, where he remained until his retirement in 1967. During this period, he conducted important research on neurological diseases affecting muscular and cerebral functions.

Denny-Brown married Sylvia Summerhayes in 1937, with whom he had four children. He died from cancer in Bethesda, Maryland on 20 April 1981.