dated 1983] Dr. James C. White served as Chief
of the MGH Neurosurgical Service from 1941 to
1961 except during the war ears, 1941 to 1946,
when he was on active duty in the United States
Navy. Born in Vienna while his father was studying
medicine in Austria, Dr. White was educated in
the United States at Groton School and Harvard
College. He graduated from Harvard College in
1917 with an AB degree in Chemistry. After spending
two years as a line officer on a light cruiser
in the Navy, Dr. White entered Harvard Medical
School and in 1923 was awarded his MD degree,
magna cum laude, with one of the best academic
records in a decade at that school.
Dr. White spent six years in postgraduate
study. In 1923 he began his internship in pathology
at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Impressed with the
accomplishments of Dr. Harvey Cushing. Dr. White
returned to Boston in 1924 and became an intern
and resident in general surgery at MGH. In 1927
he received a Moseley Traveling Fellowship from
Harvard Medical School that enabled him to study
the sympathetic nervous system and surgery for
pain with Professor A. Hovelacque in Paris and
Professor R. Leriche in Strasbourg.
On returning to Boston, Dr. White
joined the MGH surgical staff and specialized
in the autonomic neurosurgery of vascular disease
and pain in cardiovascular disease. He joined
the neurosurgical staff in 1935 and became Chief
of Neurosurgery in 1941.
World War II saw him again in uniform,
this time as a Captain in the Naval Medical Corps.
He served as Chief of Neurosurgery at the United
States Naval Hospitals in Chelsea, Massachusetts,
and St. Albans, New York. In this capacity he
was mainly concerned with injuries to the spinal
cord and peripheral nerves. After returning to
MGH, Dr. White continued to serve the Veterans
Administration for 10 ears as Branch Section Chief
of Neurosurgery for the New England area.
Dr. White began his teaching career
in 1926 as an Alumni Assistant in Surgery at Harvard
Medical School, and in 1955 was named Professor
of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. Known as
one of the outstanding teachers on the Harvard
Faculty, Dr. White set high standards and did
much to foster a physiological approach to surgery.
The training program in neurosurgery he created
at MGH received worldwide acclaim, and seven of
his trainees became professors in charge of their
own training programs at various medical schools
throughout the United States,
Dr. White was described as the premier
surgeon and contributor to knowledge in the field
of the autonomic nervous system. His related fields
of interest included neurovisceral physiology
and the mechanisms and relief of chronic painful
conditions. In his later years his interest in
pain became predominant and culminated in his
two major volumes on pain, coauthored with Dr.
William Sweet. The last, Pain and the Neurosurgeon,
A Forty-Year Experience, was published when he
was 74 years old and is one of the numerous testimonials
to his sustained intellectual vigor.
Dr. White was priSharon author of
180 scientific papers. In addition, he actively
participated in professional societies and organizations.
He was a member of' all of the major New England
and national neurosurgical. neurological and surgical
societies, as well as three French senior societies
of neurosurgery and surgery. He and Dr. Sweet
were, respectively the 14th and the 24th neurosurgeons
to receive the annual award of honorary membership
in the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.
He died in 1981 at the age of 85.
His interest in neurosurgery continued until the
final year of his life. His friends and colleagues
honored him with a substantial fund given to the
hospital to establish a visiting lectureship in