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Samuel Alexander Kinnier Wilson (December 6, 1878 - May 12, 1937) was a British neurologist who was the first to describe Wilson's disease.


He was born in Cedarville, New Jersey. A year after Wilson's birth, his father died and his family moved to Edinburgh. In 1902 he graduated with an M.B. from the University of Edinburgh, and the following year received his B.Sc. in physiology. Afterwards he went to Paris, where he continued his studies with Pierre Marie (1853-1940) and Joseph Babinski (1857-1932). In 1905 he moved to London, where he worked as registrar and pathologist at the National Hospital, Queens Square. Later he was appointed professor of neurology at King's College Hospital.

Wilson specialized in clinical neurology, and made important contributions in his studies of epilepsy, narcolepsy, apraxia and speech disorders. He described hepatolenticular degeneration in his Gold Medal winning M.D. dissertation of 1912 titled "Progressive lenticular degeneration".[1] He was honored for his research of the disease, and afterwards the disorder became known as "Wilson's disease". In this treatise he is credited for introducing the term "extrapyramidal" into neurological medicine.

Wilson published several influential works in the field of neurology, and in 1920 was founding editor of the Journal of Neurology and Psychopathology, which was later to become the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. In 1940 his two-volume work titled "Neurology" was published posthumously. Just before his death, Sir Charles Sherrington (1857–1952) had been working with Dr Edgar Adrian (later Lord Adrian of Cambridge, 1889-1977) on getting him elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society.[2]


  1. Kinnier Wilson SA (1912). Progressive lenticular degeneration: a familial nervous disease associated with cirrhosis of the liver. Brain 34 (1): 295–507.
  2. Reynolds EH (2008). Kinnier Wilson and Sherrington. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatr. 79 (4): 478–9.

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