About Us...

The Cajal Club was established in 1947 to celebrate neuroanatomy and it has evolved over the years to promote all facets of neuroscience that include an appreciation of the intimate relationship between structure and function. The club’s origin is legendary: late one night in Room 8102 at the Mount Royal Hotel in Montreal, 14 members of the American Association of Anatomists were enjoying each other’s company after a day at the annual meeting and signed a piece of hotel stationery proclaiming the creation of the Cajal Club—in honor of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the leading founder of modern neuroscience. The idea for the club was hatched by Wendell Krieg, who was Director of the Institute of Neurology at Northwestern University and creator of the first systematic connectomes for rat and rhesus monkey cerebral cortex. The first 20 years of the club were sustained largely through the efforts of Secretary-Treasurer Pinckney J. Harman, who chaired the Department of Anatomy at what was then the New Jersey Medical School.

CAJAL WORKING IN HIS LABORATORY 1879, IMAGE COURTESY of the Cajal Institute, Cajal Legacy, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Madrid, Spain.

Viewed from today’s perspective, the original aims of the Club were to preserve the memory of Cajal, to provide an opportunity for scientists with a special interest in the nervous system to socialize, to promote the importance of studying the structure of the nervous system, and to provide support for scientists applying its methods and principles to their research. In 2004 the Club officially moved its annual meeting and social events to the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and began a new era of interdisciplinary activities.

Left: Wendell Krieg, Image Courtesy of Cajal CLub Archives, Right: Rafael Lorente de Nó circa 1950, Image Courtesy of Digital COmmons, Rockefeller.edu.

The oldest tradition and honor began with the yearly banquet speaker. Lorente de Nó, Cajal’s greatest student, delivered the first one in 1951, and in 1968 it morphed into the Pinckney J. Harman Memorial Lecture, delivered by Elizabeth C. Crosby, the distinguished American neuroanatomist. The annual Krieg Cortical Kudos Awards began in 1987 with a major endowment by Wendell Krieg and his wife Roberta, and they are meant to recognize outstanding research on the structure he was passionate about, the cerebral cortex. These awards are given to individuals at junior, middle, and senior career stages. Two other traditions began with the new millennium. In Madrid, the club held the first of a series of highly successful international and national research symposia, including events at FENS since 2012. And at that 2001 event in Madrid, the Club also initiated presentation of Krieg Lifetime Achievement Awards, to King Don Juan Carlos I of Spain. Since then, eight other awards have been given to outstanding individuals including Rita Levi-Montalcini, Paul Allen, and Gordon Shepherd.

Above, The Cajal Club Banquet of 1952, Guest of Honor, RAFAEL LORENTE DE NÓ, is seated under the poster of Cajal and Wendell Krieg is seated to the left of LORENTE DE NÓ.

Today, the Cajal Club carries on these traditions in a spirit of openness and diversity. We look to recruiting the next generation of scientists, and embrace researchers and their work in model systems across the animal kingdom. We also welcome new ideas and events, in a spirit of collegiality and a love of neuroscience.

The Cajal Club Satellite meeting at FENS 2022, Paris, College de France rooftop. Above in photo are (back row) Iris Salecker, Eloisa Herrera, Sara Guthrie, Carol Mason, Michele Studer,John Rubenstein, Linda Richards, Alain Chedotal, (Front Row) Oscar Marin, Silvia Arber, Guille Lopez-Bendito, and Sonia Garel.