Hunitington's Disease

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Huntington's Disease

Sabrina Kelly

Biology 101-N70

October 8, 2009

Most people believe that that Dr. George Huntington of Pomeroy, Ohio first discovered the disease that bears his name sometime in early 1872. However, this is not entirely true. Dr. Huntington's father and grandfather were also renowned physicians of the time and it was they who would first take notes on the various conditions associated with Huntington's disease. Dr. Huntington, who at a young age aspired to be a physician as well, would study his father and grandfather's notes on their patients making notes that would lead to the name of the disease. Both the father and grandfather made similar connections with the rare disease, yet neither was able to put everything together to name the disorder. It was from these notes that "Dr. Huntington would first describe the disease as 'hereditary chorea' (Conomy). Chorea is the "acute disturbance of the central nervous system, characterized by involuntary muscular movements of the face and extremities" (Conomy) Huntington's Disease, as it is now known, is an incurable, inherited neurological illness causing involuntary, movements, sever emotional disturbances, and cognitive decline" (


Huntington first made mention of the disorder publicly in Middleport, Ohio in front of local medical society in February 1872. This speech given regarding "hereditary chorea," as Huntington first called it was short and to the point as Huntington was not known for his public speaking ability, nor for in depth thought on medical matters; this publication was his only. However, it instantly grabbed the attention of everyone who heard it. Just a short eight weeks later, "the paper was inserted into the Medical and Surgical Reporter of Philadelphia (v. 26, no. 15, April 13, 1872)" (Conomy).

Due to the interest in the paper published by the Philadelphian medical journal, several...