One of the world’s great neuroanatomists died last year, but his legacy will impact neuroscience and psychiatry for years to come. Dr. Lennart Heimer (Fig. 1), an American scientist of Swedish origin, developed a fiber tract and terminal bouton tracing technique and utilized it over the course of a long and prolific scientific career to delineate the basal forebrain structures. From his early pioneering studies came the concepts of the ventral striatum and the extended amygdala—a neuroanatomical framework of the utmost interest to psychiatrists involved in schizophrenia and addiction and now to neurosurgeons as they again enter the field of psychosurgery.
Dr. Heimer shaped the lives of many scientists, both young and old, from his laboratory at the University of Virginia; however, he had an equal passion for teaching. Scores of medical students, residents, and faculty physicians learned neuroanatomy from his famous brain dissections. Retiring from the research laboratory just a few years ago, he continued to teach, publish, and speak until the last year of his life. With a full national and international lecture schedule planned for the year, Dr. Heimer died of pancreatic cancer on March 12, 2007, at the age of 77 years. He was surrounded by his family at his farm in Trevilians, Virginia, where he was working on his last book.27
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