Ernest  Sachs, Jr., MD
Senior: 1976

1916-2001

ERNEST SACHS, JR., was born October 2, 1916, the eldest son of Dr. Ernest Sachs and Mary Koues Sachs. His father was the first professor of neurological surgery in the world. His grandfather was Professor Julius Sachs, one of the founders of Teachers College at Columbia, and his great uncle Dr. Barney Sachs was the discoverer of Tay-Sachs Disease.

Ernest Sachs graduated from Harvard College in 1938, and from Harvard Medical School in 1942. He was one of the founders of the Undergraduate Research Assembly, which was later named for his cousin Soma Weiss. He interned at Vanderbilt University Hospital under Dr. Barney Brooks and Dr. Cobb Pilcher. He served as an assistant resident on his father’s service at Barnes Hospital.

He served three years in the Army with the 45th Evacuation Hospital, most of it overseas, landing on Omaha Beach on D plus 10 and he worked with his old friend, Donald Matson. After the war he continued his training at the Lahey Clinic for a year of general surgery with Drs. Frank Lahey and James Cattell and a year and a half in neurosurgery with Drs. Gilbert Horrax and James Poppen.

He was awarded a National Research Council Fellowship at Yale in Dr. John Fulton’s neurophysiology lab, and then was a Fulbright Senior Fellow at National Hospital, Queen Square under Sir Charles Symonds.

He was appointed assistant professor of neurosurgery and neurology at Tulane University. This was interrupted after one year by the tragic paraplegia of Dr. Henry Heyl. He returned to the Dartmouth Medical School, where he spent the remainder of his academic career as professor of clinical neurosurgery and director of clinical services, research and teaching.

Dr. Sachs maintained a lifelong interest in pain, describing one of the rare autopsied cases of Ramsay Hunt syndrome with examination of the geniculate ganglion. His interest in biochemistry and experimental neurophysiology led to the study of acetylcholine in the spinal fluid where he discovered serotonin in cases of brain tumors and head injuries.

He was president of the New England Neurosurgical Society, and for a number of years was president of the Hitchcock Foundation for medical research. He is the author of 68 medical papers and one book, a translation with a German scholar, Eva Valtin, of Bischoff’s 1863 monograph “Microscopic Analyses of Anastomoses between the Cranial Nerves.”

Dr. Sachs was responsible for the training of 30 residents during his years at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital, many of whom became heads of their departments.

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