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[Perspectives] The radical Mr Parkinson

In An Essay on the Shaking Palsy, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, London apothecary-surgeon James Parkinson described with remarkable precision many of the features of the disease that was later to bear his name. For a medical doctor, eponymity is an honour rarely bestowed in the discoverer’s lifetime, and then often wrongly attributed, and indeed it took half a century before the great French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot recognised the London surgeon’s formidable scholarship by naming the shaking palsy the maladie de Parkinson.

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