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James Ramsay Hunt qualified MD at the University of Pennsylvania in 1893. He was appointed Instructor at Cornell University School of Medicine from 1900–10 and worked with C L Dana, mainly on the anatomy and clinical features of the corpus striatum and cerebellum. In 1924, he became a full professor at Columbia University School of Medicine. In the First World War he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Medical Corps, serving in France as director of neuropsychiatry. He was on the faculty of the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University in 1911–13 and again from 1924 until his death. He was Consulting Neurologist and Senior Attending Neurologist at the Neurological Institute of New York from c.1914 to 1937. Despite his high ranking in Neurology, few biographical details have been recorded about his life.1 His 29 casebooks are housed in the Columbia University Health Sciences library archives and contain about 5019 cases dating from 1903 to 1937. Without doubt, he was one of the foremost neurologists of his time. His researches and writings were diverse and show originality and fine attention to detail with shrewd deductions about pathogenesis. He died on 22 July 1937 in Katonah, New York leaving two children, Alice Hunt Sokoloff, an accomplished musician and biographer, and James Ramsay Hunt Jr, a CIA intelligence officer.
Ramsay Hunt had the distinction of having at least three syndromes named after him. The best known is herpes zoster oticus. Dyssynergia cerebellaris myoclonica is the second. Third, is progressive atrophy of the globus pallidus (primary atrophy of the pallidal system), the basis of juvenile paralysis agitans of Hunt. Less well known, but of clinical importance, is his 1914 account of the …