The history of neurosurgery in Memphis: the Semmes-Murphey Clinic and the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine

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Neurological surgery was defined as a separate surgical specialty by Harvey Cushing and a few other surgeons, most of whom were trained and influenced by Cushing. One of these, Raphael Eustace Semmes, became the first neurosurgeon in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1912. After World War II, Semmes and his first associate, Francis Murphey, incorporated the Semmes-Murphey Clinic, which has been primarily responsible for the growth of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, as well as the development of select neurosurgical subspecialties in Memphis area hospitals.

Abbreviations used in this paper: AANS = American Association of Neurological Surgeons; CNS = Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

Article Information

Address correspondence to: Clarence B. Watridge, M.D., Semmes-Murphey Clinic, 6435 Humphreys Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee 38120. email: cwatridge@semmes-murphey.com.

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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    Photograph of Semmes' Phi Beta Kappa key. The inscription on the key reads: “RESemmes, Johns Hopkins, 1910.” Courtesy of Semmes family.

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    Photocopy of letter from Cushing to Semmes indicating their mutual respect. Published with permission of the Semmes-Murphey Clinic.

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    The first meeting of the Harvey Cushing Society, May 6, 1932. Reprinted with permission of the AANS.

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    Photograph of Eustace Semmes (left) and Francis Murphey (right). Published with permission of the Semmes-Murphey Clinic.

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    Photographs of the modern Semmes-Murphey Clinic. Published with permission of the Semmes-Murphey Clinic.

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    Reunion photograph of Semmes-Murphey neurosurgeons, circa 1971. Notable attendees included Eustace Semmes (front row, seated fourth from left), Francis Murphey (front row, seated second from right), Thor Sundt (front row, seated at far right), James T. Robertson (last row, standing 13th from left), Jim Simmons (front row, second from left), and Morris Ray (standing, 11th from the left). Published with permission of the Semmes-Murphey Clinic.

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