Biographies de neurologues
Nouvelle Iconographie de La Salpêtrière
 L'histoire des neurosciences à La Pitié et à La Salpêtrière J Poirier
The history of neurosciences at La Pitié and La Salpêtrière J Poirier 

mise à jour du
5 mai 2014
VULPIAN Alfred Edmé Félix
05 janvier 1826 - Paris
18 mai 1887 - Paris
 Les biographies de neurologues


"Appelé à prendre possession de la chaire de pathologie expérimentale et comparée, lorsqu'elle est devenue vacante par la suite de la démission de M. Brown Séquard, j'ai choisi, pour sujet de mon premier cours (mars juillet 1873), la physiologie et la pathologie de l'appareil nerveux vasomoteur" écrit Vulpian dans la préface. En compagnie de Charcot à la Salpêtrière, Edmé Félix Alfred Vulpian (1826 1887), élève de Flourens, se consacra à l'étude de la physiologie et de la pathologie du système nerveux. Il étudia la dégénérescence et la régénération du système nerveux ainsi que l'effet des drogues sur celui ci. Il apporta un nouvel éclairage sur la neuropathologie.
Physiologiste, neurologue. Médecin des hôpitaux. Professeur d'anatomie pathologique puis de pathologie expérimentale. Doyen de la faculté de médecine de Paris.
Dirige de nombreux laboratoires. Travaillera avec Charcot sur le système nerveux. En 1856 découvre ce qui sera identifié en 1909 comme l'adrénaline et publie " Recherches expérimentales sur la physiologie et la pathologie des capsules surrénales". C.R. Acad. Sci.1856.43.663-665.
Jean-Martin Charcot et Alfred Vulpian donneront le nom de Maladie de Parkinson en 1861-1862 au tableau complet qu'ils présentent dans la Gazette de Médecine et de Chirurgie (1861. série 1. tome 8. p765-767& 816-820 puis1862. série 1. tome 9. p54-59. Paris. Victor Masson et fils).
En1864, Vulpian décrit la déviation conjuguée de la tête et des yeux lors de l'ictus apoplectique = le malade regarde sa lésion cérébrale: (Thèse de Jean-Louis Prévost de Genève). Puis en 1866 il décrit, avec Charcot, la sclérose en plaques.
Alfred Vulpian and Jean-Martin Charcot in Each Other's Shadow?
From Castor and Pollux at La Salpêtrière to Neurology Forever
Bogousslavsky J, Walusinski O, Moulin T.
European Neurology. 2011;65(4):215-222.
 alfred vulpian
Leçons sur la physiologie générale et comparée du système nerveux. Germer-Baillière, Paris 1866:
"Le bulbe rachidien, organe central de la respiration, est naturellement aussi l'organe central de tous les phénomènes qui se rattachent au mécanisme respiratoire. Voilà comme il gouverne le cri, l'éternuement, la toux, le bâillement, les efforts etc.. mouvements très complexes, coordonnés, et exigeant le concours d'un grand nombre d'agents nerveux et musculaires, que vous ne vous étonnerez pas de voir conspirer vers un but déterminé..."
"In 1862 [Vulpian] took over, with Charcot, that chaotic welfare institution for the chronically sick, known as the Salpetrière. Vulpian was more restrained and perhaps even more learned than his great friend [Charcot], and he was an experimenter. He worked out the principles of degeneration, and particularly the regeneration, of nerves; he established the principles and added many new facts concerning the vasomotor and sudmotor apparatus and he made them common knowledge. Vulpian's influence upon his many followers in several fields of knowledge made him the intellectual leader of his day" (Haymaker & Schiller, Founders of Neurology, pp. 272 74).
alfred vulpian
Born in Paris, Edmé Félix Alfred Vulpian was descended from the aristocracy and the legal profession, and a father who wrote successfully for the stage. His father died of smallpox after refusing vaccination, leaving four children in poverty. Vulpian wanted to enter the École Normale, the top teacher's college in France, but failed in the entrance concours.
To make a living, Vulpian obtained a technician's job at the Muséum with Marie Jean Pierre Flourens (1794-1867) Flourens, the discoverer of the respiratory centre of the medulla oblongata. Through Flourens' influence, Vulpian was entered into medical school at the age of nineteen, and his doctoral thesis in 1853, on the origin of the cranial nerves III to X, was regarded as being of the highest standard.
Vulpian was appointed médecin des hôpitaux in 1857 and agrégé at the faculty in 1860, but continued to teach neurophysiology and for three years was Flourens' deputy as professor of physiology at the chair in the Museum for Natural History. In 1867 he succeeded Léon Jean Baptiste Cruveilhier (1791-1874) as professor of pathological anatomy at the faculty, despite a great deal of opposition from the bishops in the senate. Vulpian was involved in a heavy conflict with the clergy because his teaching and his lectures were considered materialistic, and particularly because of a paper Vulpian had written on the higher functions of the brain.
In 1862, Vulpian and Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893) took over the chaotic welfare institution for the chronically ill known as the Salpêtrière.
In 1872 he changed to the chair of experimental and comparative anatomy, while at the same time holding a position at the Paris Charité. He was elected member of the Academy of Medicine in 1867 (16/18: 1869), succeeded Charles Adolphe Wurtz (1817-1884) as dean of the faculty of medicine at the University of Paris in 1875, and the following year was made a member of the Academy of Sciences, replacing Gabriel Andral (1897-1876).
Vulpian was more restrained and perhaps even more learned than his great friend Charcot, an experimenter as well as a fine teacher, but somewhat retiring and therefore greatly overshadowed by Charcot. He confirmed Flouren's observations concerning the functions of the semicircular canal and the cerebellum and established principles of regeneration of nerves as well as investigating the vasomotor functions. Using chromium salts he discovered the chromaffin system of the adrenal gland and demonstrated that curare caused paralysis by affecting a point between nerve and muscle.
He was a prodigious worker who started his day at 4 a.m. and was much admired by his students as an outstanding teacher. With unprecedented conscientiousness he went over and over his experiments, checking and controlling them until he could be certain of the results. The effect on his students was profound. One of them, Madame Dejerine (Augusta Marie Dejerine-Klumpke, 1859-1927), was impressed by his intelligence, gentleness and good looks, and has recorded how he pointed out to her the extension of the big toe in paraplegics long before Babinski's demonstration.
He recognised the lack of the use of the microscope in French investigative medicine, whereas Germany with men like Rudolf Virchow were making was strides. Using the microscope, he showed that tabes dorsalis was not primarily a dorsal column disease, and demonstrated the retrograde changes in the spinal column after amputation or nerve sectioning.
In 1856 Vulpian applied a solution of ferric chloride to slices of the adrenal glands and noted that the medulla stained green while the cortex did not. He also noted that the same reaction was given by samples of venous blood leaving the adrenal, but not by arterial blood entering the gland. To account for these observations, he assumed that the medulla synthesized a substance that was liberated into the circulation.
Together with Charcot he founded the journal Archives de Physiologie Normale et Pathologique. He was permanent secretary of the Academy of Sciences and undoubtedly was one of the great influences on French medicine. The achievements of both his colleagues, Charcot, and his students, the Dejerines, perhaps kept him from the international recognition that might normally have been expected. His written work comprises 225 publications.
• Essai sur l'origine réelle de plusieurs nerfs crâniens. Doctoral thesis, Paris, 1853.
• Note sur quelques réactions propres à la substance des capsules surrénales. Comptes rendus de l'Académie des Sciences, Paris, 1856, 43: 663-665. Vulpian discovered adrenaline in the adrenal medulla.
• Des pneumonies secondaires. Thèse d'agrégation, Paris, 1860.
• Leçons sur la physiologie générale et comparée du système nerveux, faites en 1864 au Muséum d'histoire naturelle. Paris, Gerner-Baillière, 1866.
• Leçons sur l'appareil vaso-moteur (physiologie et pathologie) faites à la Faculté de Médecine de Paris en 1873. Rédigées par H. C. Carville. Paris, Gerner-Baillière, 2 volumes, 1874-1875.
• Leçons sur la pathologie expérimentale de l'appareil digestif.
• Leçons sur l'action physiologique des poisons et médicaments, faites à la Faculté de médecine de Paris en 1875. Journal de l'École de médecine.
• Clinique médicale de l'hôpital de la Charité. 1878.
• Maladies du système nerveux; leçons professées à la Faculté de Médecine. 2 volumes, Paris, Doin, 1879 and 1886.
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 alfred Vulpian
plaque posée sur l'immeuble du 24 rue soufflot Paris 5 où habitait Vulpian
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