Education History of MS (7): Jean Martin Charcot

Jean-Martin Charcot (1825 – 1893) was a French neurologist, who worked at the Salpêtrière hospital, Paris. He is known as “the founder of modern neurology” and is associated with at least 15 medical conditions including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (motor neurone disease/Lou Gehrigs Disease). He is considered to be one the founding fathers of the study of multiple sclerosis and has lent his name to many multiple sclerosis-related activities including: The Charcot foundation, for the advancement of Multiple Sclerosis Research, the Charcot tapestry and now the Charcot Project by Prof G and Prof G-Down Under.

One of Charcot’s greatest legacies as a clinician was his contribution to the development of systematic neurological examination, correlating a set of clinical signs with specific lesions as seen macroscopically (seen by eye) and microscopically (seen with a microscope) following autopsies (dissection after death).

Whilst damage to the brain caused by MS was recorded earlier by Robert Carswell in 1838 and Jean Cruveilhier in 1841, it was Jean-Martin Charcot that drew together the knowledge about the then unamed condition and in 1868 described the distinct characteristics of the condition named “sclerose en plaques”.

He described MS lesions in detail and reported on inflammation and the loss of the covering (myelin) of the nerves and the proliferation of glial fibres and nuclei at these sites. He attributed symptoms to impaired conduction in the central nervous system, though with periods of remission, and identified the symptoms of MS and his work is considered the beginnings of the study of the condition.

History of MS (1): Russell Brains

History of MS (2): St. Lidwina of Schiedam

History of MS (3): Sir August d’Esté

History of MS (4): Robert Carswell

History of MS (5): Jean Cruveilhier

History of MS (6): Friedrich von Frerichs

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  • It seems kind of weird how this guy discovered so much bout MS back in 1868, yet 144 years later, progress is still comparatively lacking.

    This isn't a criticism… more of an observation. I'm having a slow work day. Sorry.

  • If you look at a car for the first time you can easily describe the features and the interior. Open the hood/bonnet and you see the engine is there this is another layer of description. You may be able to guess that the engine makes the car run

    Now describe how the car actually works in every detail. That will and take you a long time and for many of us we wouldn't have a clue

    Understanding biology is no different the easy things are done first and the minor details take ages to do.

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