Arnold Bernard Scheibel, M.D. (1923–2017)

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


On April 3, 2017, Arnold (Arne) Bernard Scheibel quietly greeted his mortality at the age of 94, leaving an impressive compilation of over 200 groundbreaking investigations on the fine structure of the nervous system. He was one of the original researchers in the field of neuroscience, having contributed to the foundational Boulder conferences in Colorado (Scheibel, 1979; Scheibel & Scheibel, 1967a). He also served as Acting Director (1987–1990) and Director (1990–1995) of the UCLA Brain Research Institute, ensuring its survival in the face of considerable economic turmoil. His legacy, however, extends well beyond his scientific contributions, with his generous and kind presence influencing generations of students and colleagues. The present retrospective provides but a brief glimpse into his rich life, one that is captured more fully in his characteristically modest autobiography (Scheibel, 2006).
Born in New York on January 18, 1923, Arne was an only child, although his cousin, Milton, was raised by Arne's parents, and came to be like a brother. Arne had a complex, evolving relationship with his father, a self‐made, rather anxious man who worked tirelessly in industry, advertising, and a home‐owned business to guide his family through the Great Depression. Arne was deeply influenced by his father's personal courage, and grew with age to appreciate his high standards and expectations. He credits his father for his artistic ability, which proved to be of tremendous value as Arne, like Ramón y Cajal before him, spent many hours drawing detailed recreations of neuropil (see Figure 1). We in the neuroscience community are fortunate that his childhood dream of becoming a great baseball pitcher was never realized. Arne's relationship with his mother was quite different, as he always felt very close to her. He viewed her as a strong, intelligent woman whose self‐sacrificing nature provided the glue that held the family together during tumultuous times. Although she was not able to complete her formal education, she was an accomplished pianist and a voracious reader. Both parents emphasized the importance of education, which led Arne down a life‐long academic path. This path came full circle in 2016 when, to honor his parents, he established two endowed chairs, one for his mother (the Ethel Scheibel Endowed Chair in Neuroscience in the Department of Neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine) and one for his father (the William Scheibel Endowed Chair in Neuroscience at UCLA's Brain Research Institute). A third endowed chair was funded in 2017 by two former students, now husband and wife (neuroscientist Ronald P. Hammer and neuropsychiatrist Sandra Jacobson), to jointly honor Dr. Scheibel and his spouse, Dr. Marian Diamond (the Marian C. Diamond and Arnold B. Scheibel Chair in Neuroscience at UC Berkeley).
Although he spent most of his adult life in California, he noted that, emotionally, he remained a New Yorker. In 1944, he graduated from Columbia College with a liberal‐arts major. This broad intellectual background resulted in a life‐long Renaissance‐like interest in and impressive knowledge about variety of topics beyond neuroscience, including art, literature, aviation, language, music, and history. Under the practical pressures of World War II, he decided to pursue an M.D. at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Although initially not impressed with the state of neurology and neurosurgery at the time, interactions with psychoanalytically trained psychiatrists opened the door for his life‐long interest in the neural substrates. It was during his 2 years of psychiatric training at Brooke General Hospital in San Antonio that he met his first wife, Mila (Madge), which was the beginning of a very rich, decades‐long research partnership.
    loading  Loading Related Articles