Department of Physiology (formerly the Department of Neurophysiology) at the University of Wisconsin
maintained the bulk of the Comparative Mammalian Brain Collection until the fall of 2007.
The collection was started in the 1950's by Dr. Clinton Woolsey.
When the late Clinton Woolsey (1904-1993) came from Johns Hopkins
to start brain research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
soon after the Second World War (he was the founder of the Laboratory,
and later the Department, of Neurophysiology at Wisconsin),
he brought with him not only a strong and extensive interest
in the comparative anatomy of mammalian brains, but also the
beginnings of what has become one of the premier collections
of its kind anywhere in the world.
Konrad Akert played a role in standardizing techniques of perfusion
and histological processing and protocol keeping in the early
years. The brain collection was increased and diversified by
Wally Welker and colleagues over the next 4 decades. During
this period, a large number of faculty and students carried
out comparative neurophysiological and neuroanatomical analyses
in a variety of mammals.
of these studies were initiated because of the special behavioral
repertory of the different animals studied. Dr. John I. Johnson
joined these investigators for postdoctoral training. By the
time Dr. Johnson arrived, in 1960, Dr. Welker, a member
of the Wisconsin faculty, had begun formal collection of brain
specimens with 5-year support from the National Institutes of
Health for "Comparative study of brain morphology in mammals."
With the advice of Konrad Akert and Jerzy Rose at Wisconsin,
together with the collaboration of numerous students and colleagues,
we assembled brains from a wide variety of mammals from a representative
variety of Mammalian Orders; specimens that were perfused and
prepared by standardized histologically procedures in ways that
would provide neuroanatomical study materials for many generations
of comparative neuroanatomists. I worked together on these comparative
projects with Jack Johnson over the last several decades and
we both worked together with Jon Kaas, John Allman, Mike Merzenich,
and many others over this time span. The neuroanatomical
material we assembled was transported, and is now curated
and maintained at the National Museum of Health and Medicine
in Washington D. C. under the supervision of the Museums Director,
Adrianne Noe and Curator, Archie Fobbs, and is made widely
available for study there by students and researchers worldwide.