History of the Club

Brief History and Volume 5 of Proceedings
Recent Publication of a Book from our Mexico Meeting in 2007
Table of Contents of the Proceedings

Brief History

The Cajal Club was founded on April 3, 1947, at a meeting of the American Association of Anatomists (AAA). The founding members were notable neuroanatomists of their day and included W.J. Krieg (the moving force behind the Cajal Club), E.H. Craigie (a former student of Cajal and translator of Cajal’s Recollections), P.J. Harman, C.A. Fox, R. F. Becker, G.C. Clark, J.H. Graves, D.S. Jones, A.A. Pearson, D.C. Hetherington, A.V. Jensen, G.L. Rasmussen, C.M. Berry, and T.L. Peele. It is reported in the proceedings of the Cajal Club that Wendell J.S. Krieg (president for the first five years of the Cajal Club’s existence) went to this AAA meeting with the desire and intention of initiating an organization of neuroanatomists. It is significant to note that the original covenant of the Cajal Club specified that one of its main aims was to revere Cajal. Furthermore, the Cajal Club promoted friendly scientific discussions between neuroanatomists and continues to do so to this day with its annual scientific and social agendas.

From this small group of founders sprang many important scientific contributions, and the Cajal Club has grown to over 500 members throughout the world. Since its inception in 1947 to 2003, the Cajal Club met continuously with the AAA. In 2004 the Cajal Club switched its venue to the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. In May 2001, the Cajal Club held its first international meeting at the Cajal Institute in Madrid, Spain. This meeting was the first time the club met outside North America, and it should be noted that the title of the meeting was “Changing Views of Cajal’s Neuron.” A book based on the proceedings of this meeting was published to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Cajal’s birth. The chapters in this book emphasize the importance of Cajal’s contributions and how current research indicates that his ideas are still relevant and essential for understanding brain function. Two subsequent International Meetings were held in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2006 and Juriquilla, Queretaro, Mexico, in 2007.

The Cajal Club is unique in many other ways. All of the officers are named after parts of the neuron. For example, the president-elect is referred to as the Nissl Body, the president is the Nucleolus, and the past-president is the lipofuscin granule. Another notable feature of the Cajal Club is its link to Spain and Cajal’s life. Several of the club’s banquet speakers provided lectures over the years on topics ranging from “A Visit to Cajal’s Spain” to “The Zaragosa Period: An Early Portfolio.” It should be noted that the son of Cajal received an honorary lifetime membership certificate from the Cajal Club, and this certificate was observed in Cajal’s home in Madrid by several club officers who toured it in 2001. A final example of the Cajal Club’s unique character is the fact that in May 2001, the Cajal Club presented the King of Spain Don Juan Carlos I with a Cajal Medal (Krieg Achievement Award) and certificate for his enduring support for Cajal’s legacy by supporting the Cajal Institute (http://www.cajal.csic.es). It is indeed rare for any scientific organization to award royalty with medals. Thus, through its various activities, the Cajal Club will certainly continue to show its respect for the profoundly important contributions of Santiago Ramón y Cajal well into this new century.

The Kriegs established the Krieg Cortical Kudos in 1987. These awards are presented by the Cajal Club each year to neuroscientists at senior, intermediate, and beginning stages in their careers for outstanding research on the structure and connections of the cerebral cortex. The three levels are named Discoverer, Explorer, and Scholar, respectively. The list of the awardees is located below.

Volume 5 of the Proceedings:
Recollections of the Krieg Legacy
By David G. Whitlock, M.D., Ph.D.
Cajal Club Secretary /Treasurer (Apical Dendrite)
[David’s tenure in this office was from 1981 to 2001]

On June 14, 2009, Roberta Krieg, wife of Professor Wendell Krieg who had preceded her in death, passed away in Evanston, IL. In her will, she bequeathed to the Cajal Club a large sum of money to supplement the financial gifts she and her husband had given to the club over the years for the support of the Krieg Cortical Kudos. Since 1987 the Cajal Club has given these awards to honor scientists and students for outstanding research on the cerebral cortex. In addition, Krieg Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to distinguished individuals for their support of the neurosciences.

These awards had their origin in 1985 when Wendell Krieg, one of the founders and the first president of the Cajal Club, appeared after a 10-year absence at the Cajal Club meeting held with a joint gathering of the Canadian and American Associations of Anatomists in Toronto, Canada. At that meeting, professor Krieg cut a striking figure attired in a bold silver and black-striped sport coat, purple pants, and matching tie topped off by his massive mane of snow-white hair.

He told a few of us who he still knew after his long absence from Cajal Club meetings that he had come to present a plan to the membership. He stated that he wanted to give the proceeds from the forthcoming sale of his ocean-front property near Woods Hole, Massachusetts, to the Cajal Club to establish awards for students and scientists to recognize outstanding research contributions on the structure and connections of the cerebral cortex. After much discussion at this meeting and subsequent correspondence with Professor Krieg, his plan began to take shape.

During the summer of 1985, after the Toronto meeting, Wendell Krieg, acting as his own real estate broker, sold his Massachusetts property for $400,000 to a visiting scientist at the nearby Marine Biological Laboratory. Wendell structured the sale so that all of the $400,000 he received for his property eventually would be given to the Cajal Club in two ways. One arrangement, which was codified in a promissory note with the buyer, was for $200,000 of the total sale price to be paid in annual installments to the club over a ten year period. However, over the next several years and largely because of default by the buyer, a slightly lesser total amount of about $180,000 was eventually received by the club. That sum was used as the corpus of support for the Krieg awards.

Wendell placed the second half of the profit from the house sale, also a sum of $200,000, in a trust that he managed for the Cajal Club in an Evanston bank. He informed the membership that he planned to send the interest earned by that trust each year to the club to support the Krieg awards. Indeed, for about the next three years, he sent financial gifts to the Cajal Club about equal in amount to the interest that such a trust would have earned.

The Cajal Club then received correspondence from him indicating that their personal needs had unexpectedly increased. He asked the club for permission to allow the Kriegs to use the interest from the trust to meet these unanticipated expenses. The Cajal Club board of directors and the membership voted approval of his request and no further income or information on the Cajal Club trust were received until perhaps now.

Wendell told me that in the mid-1970s, when he retired from Northwestern University Medical School, he had about $80,000 in his retirement account and that he felt this amount was quite sufficient for them to live on in retirement. The fact that he later found that they needed more for their support, apparently including the interest from the Cajal Club trust fund, was not surprising. After he died in 1997, Roberta told me that she was uncertain how much money was left in their estate for her support and that only time would tell how much of it might be available for the Cajal Club in the future.

Some of the history on how the Krieg financial gifts were initially managed and structured for the Cajal Club is included here. Originally, the bylaws and structure for a Cajal Club Foundation Corporation to act as a charitable organization in order to receive and manage the Krieg gifts were to be drafted in 1985 by the Cajal Club archivist, Glen V. Russell, who had experience in creating such documents. However, just as he was about to start, Glen suddenly died. Several of his friends in Galveston where he lived included a distinguished attorney who had been a longtime associate of Glen and Jan Coggeshall, the wife of a local Cajal Club member, Dick Coggeshall, and a former mayor of Galveston as well as a senior partner in the local Merrill Lynch office. They offered to aid the club, pro bono, in drafting these documents. Through the combined efforts of those in Galveston and with the help of the University of Colorado Health Sciences attorneys in Denver, the bylaws, etc. were completed, voted on and approved by the Cajal Club membership. A Cajal Club Foundation was established and an application for a 501 (c) (3) IRS classification for the club was submitted and later approved.

From the beginning, Wendell had requested that their gifts be invested in conservative holdings for long-term preservation and not be used for risky but potentially profitable investments. I consulted with Jan Coggeshall about following these guidelines for the initial Krieg gifts. She recommended that treasury bonds and layered holdings would provide very good long-term security but probably modest income. Because she was a senior partner with the Galveston Office of Merrill Lynch and had a long track record for investments, including those that had allowed Galveston to flourish during her tenure as mayor, it was voted to invest the Krieg gifts with her in a Merrill Lynch account. As the money began to trickle in, it was invested in secure holdings that she recommended in a Krieg Merrill Lynch account.

The Krieg Cortical Kudos, commencing in 1987 and funded by the Kriegs’ gifts, have now honored many scientists and exceptional students who have contributed outstanding research on the cerebral cortex. Their names and the Krieg awards they received can be found on the Cajal Club web site. In addition, the names of other distinguished recipients of Krieg Lifetime Achievement Awards are listed.

Now, both the Kriegs have passed on. The monies they have given for the support of the Krieg Cortical Kudos and Lifetime Achievement Awards over the years together with the additional gift Roberta now has willed to the Cajal Club should provide substantial funds for their continuance. The exact amount of Roberta’s final bequest is not known at this time to the author, but it apparently may be around $200,000. If so, it seems reasonable to speculate that this sum might even be the principal of the Cajal Club trust Wendell established in 1985 for some of the funds received from the sale of their oceanfront property in Massachusetts. A tenacious preservation of assets and sequestration of their resources by Roberta over the past 24 years may have made possible this last very generous Krieg gift.

Finally, I see Roberta Krieg’s bequest as her way of completing the commitment made by Wendell for them back in 1985 to honor through the Cajal Club outstanding research contributions to the neurosciences. I salute these dear friends for the completion of that plan and for their foresight and generosity in establishing the Krieg awards. These awards should continue to bring honor and high recognition by the Cajal Club to many contributors to the neurosciences in the years ahead.

“From Development to Degeneration and Regeneration of the Nervous System” was published by Oxford University Press. The coeditors of this unique volume include: Charles E. Ribak, Carlos Arámburo de la Hoz, Edward G. Jones, Jorge A. Larriva Sahd, Larry W. Swanson. Several members of the Cajal Club have contributed to this volume to make it a reminder of the excellent International Meeting that was held in Mexico in 2007. This wonderfully crafted book serves to educate and expand upon three areas of research that were pioneered by Santiago Ramón y Cajal, development, degeneration and regeneration. Its text is engaging, thorough, richly illustrated, and shows that Cajal’s legacy is greatly appreciated by neuroscientists of today. A discount of 15% for this book is available for all Cajal Club members. Simply go to the OUR website – www.oup.com/us -- enter 27400 in the “Sales Promo Code” box, and you can have the volume at the special price of $76.08.

Introduction to Volume 6 of the Proceedings:
Recollections of the the Cajal Club Archivist/Historian
By Larry W. Swanson, Ph.D.
Cajal Club Archivist/Historian

Since the last volume of the Cajal Club’s Proceedings was published, and there has been a world of change in the meantime—both for the Club and for the way information is distributed. Interestingly, the first volume of the Proceedings was edited and published by Glenn V. Russell in 1973 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Club. This 6th volume is appearing just in time for the 75th anniversary in 2022.

There have been two big changes for the Club in the last 25 years. First, the venue for our annual get togethers changed from the annual meeting of the American Association of Anatomists to the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. One key perspective on this change is provided by my predecessor as editor and archivist, Duane E. Haines, in the first contribution to this Volume 6. The second big change has been the initiation of international meetings sponsored or cosponsored by the Club. The first event of this kind was a marvelous symposium held in 2001 in Madrid, the final academic home of Cajal, and his final resting place. At this meeting, which was spearheaded by then President, Chuck Ribak, the Club’s first two Krieg Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to King Don Juan Carlos I of Spain and to Constantino Sotelo. This was followed by equally successful meetings at the Karolinska Institutet in 2006 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize to Golgi and Cajal; at the Neurobiology Institute of UNAM in 2007 in Juriquilla, Querétaro, Mexico; in Pavia in 2009 to pay homage to Golgi, and present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Rita Levi-Montalcini; and since 2009 a number of others.

The revolutionary change in publishing has been the migration from print to digital. While new printed material will probably never completely disappear, for our Proceedings a web-based format that is open to everyone everywhere with a web browser is an obvious choice. Aside from ease of distribution there is one other major advantage. We are starting this Volume 6 with a single item, the essay by Duane Haines, and we will simply add content as it is received and edited. As editor, I will contribute items, I will ask relevant individuals to contribute articles on topics the membership might find interesting, and I encourage members to suggest topics and even to volunteer writing pieces for the Proceedings.

Volume 6 of the Proceedings:
"The Transition: Recollections of the Move of the Cajal Club From the American Association of Anatomists to the Society for Neuroscience by One Participant"
By Duane E. Haines, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus and Former Chairman
Department of Anatomy
The University of Mississippi Medical Center

The founding of the Cajal Club has been described in several publications over the years, most recently by David Whitlock (2007). It is safe to say that this club was founded by, and its long-term survival assured by, individuals who greatly respected Cajal and his legacy, were at their most enthusiastic when talking about the nervous system, and, it can be said without contradiction, could party without needing much of an excuse. Every year the best excuse for a party (a socializer) was the annual meeting of the Cajal Club that was held is association with the annual meeting of the American Association of Anatomist (AAA). The following, very brief, history of the founding of Cajal Club is provided for those who may not be familiar with the birth of this unique organization.

April 3-5, 1947
The 60th annual meeting of the AAA was held at McGill University, School of Medicine, in Montreal, Canada in the spring of 1947. Dr. George W. Corner, a well-known figure in reproductive biology (and by this time a member of the National Academy of Sciences [1940], and a future member of the Royal Society of London [1955]), was the AAA President. His presidential address was concerned with a topic that is still debated by all anatomists, and neuroanatomists, to the present day: terminology. On the evening of April 3, 1947, Wendell J. Krieg, a neuroanatomist of significant reputation, arranged a party in his suite at the Mount Royal Hotel. Consistent with his somewhat flamboyant style, Krieg organized a buffet for the attendees with labels on the various dishes identifying their contents: red nucleus (cherries), substantia nigra (caviar), and gray matter (an odoriferous cheese). There were other delicacies such as cerebrospinal fluid (spiked punch). Naturally, there was also sufficient amounts of good whiskey. By the end of the evening a small cadre of young neuroanatomists remained and listened to Krieg outline a plan to put together an informal group that would gather at the annual AAA meeting to discuss neuroanatomical topics of mutual, and shared, interest. A plan was put-forth, and accepted, and this group decided to call themselves the Cajal Club (CC) after the father of contemporary neuroanatomy (see Whitlock, 2007 and the CC Proceedings, Vol. 4, 1996, for further details).

Although a loosely organized group, officers were elected. Wendell Krieg became the Nucleolus (President), E. Horne Craigie the Axone (a lifetime title recognizing his status as a former student of Cajal), Pinckney Harman the Apical Dendrite (Secretary-Treasurer), and Clement Fox the Nissl body (Vice-President). The other founding members were: R. Frederick Becker, George Clark, James Graves, David Jones, Anthony Pearson, Duncan Hetherington, Arthur Jensen, Grant Rasmussen, Charles Berry, and Talmage Peele. Brief biographical sketches of all the founders can be found in the Proceedings of the Cajal Club, Vol. 4, 1996.

From this point the CC grew in membership, interest, and quickly became a very positive factor at the annual meeting of the AAA. The custom of the Cajal Club was to meet the day immediately proceeding the first day of the AAA meeting. I believe that the AAA saw the advent of the CC, and their desire to meet at the AAA meeting as mutually beneficial; AAA gained from the CC attendees, and the CC gained by AAA members coming a day early to attend the CC meeting. Within a very short time the complete CC program appeared in the overall AAA program (see AAA Program, 1952, p.5). For more than 50 years this cooperation continued to the benefit of both professional organizations.

The Transition—A Beginning and A Process
For a number of reasons, one being the formation of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) in the early 1970s, attendance at the CC meeting began a slow decline by the late 1970s and into the 1980s. Concurrent with this shift was the fact that many neuroanatomists, even those who were steadfast anatomists and long-term AAA members, were gravitating to the Neuroscience meeting. Consequently, this slow decline in attendance at the CC meeting was accompanied by a concurrent slow decline in attendance at the AAA meeting; both affected the other.

I admire my friend Larry Swanson for asking me to recall the move of the CC from the AAA to SfN knowing that I had reservations as to whether or not the small CC would survive an affiliation with a massive organization. During the entire time that this potential move was being considered I was an officer in the CC (Alpha Helix) and was also an officer in the AAA (Secretary-Treasurer). When I became the Secretary-Treasurer of the AAA I suggested that the AAA provide a stipend to help offset the costs of the CC meeting because it was one important aspect of the overall AAA meeting; the AAA Board generously supported this plan. Part of the stimulus for this action was related to the slowly declining attendance at the CC meeting and, at the same time, the realization that the CC program had been, for many years, an important and integral component of the annual AAA meeting.

For several years before the final decision was made, wide ranging opinions were expressed at the annual CC Business Meeting concerning the possibility of leaving the AAA and moving to the SfN. It is to the credit of the officers of the CC that this discussion was conducted over several years, all members were openly encouraged to voice their opinion, and all opinions were heard and respected. There was never an effort to force a decision on the CC members.

Several major concerns were expressed over the possibility of a move. First, it was unclear how the SfN might work-in yet another meeting of a satellite group; at that time the SfN meeting was very large and had a very compact program. Second, there was concern that a small group, like the CC, may not attract a sufficiently large audience at its satellite meeting to survive. As I recall, the SfN indicated that if CC affiliated with the SfN meeting but did not attract a certain number of persons to its (the CC) socializer, the SfN would not allow further satellite meetings of the CC. Third, with one foot in the CC and one foot in the AAA, I cautioned the members at these annual discussions that the AAA would discontinue its annual stipend to the Club if the CC moved to the SfN. By this time the AAA stipend had grown large enough to be one of the factors in the discussion. Fourth, there was the recognition that some attendees at the annual CC meeting were AAA members who did not attend the SfN meeting and that this group would be lost. At the same time, it was noted that these numbers had declined. There were a number of other smaller concerns. All were considered and taken very seriously; I believe it is that level of serious deliberation that resulted in it taking several years to reach a final decision.

The Transition—The Plan, The Move, and The Outcome
One could argue that the plan that was put into place was somewhat of a stealth operation. Rather than jump from the boat into the lake, it was deemed wise to test the water; while setting in the AAA boat, the CC tested the SfN water. Some members, including the CC officers, recognized that the future was uncertain, but that the continued decline of attendees at CC with the AAA also did not bode well. I believe the major concern was what type of reception would the CC get in this very large venue and =could we, as a small Club, generate an adequate interest level and following not only to survive, but to flourish. As it turned out we had little to worry about. The CC decided to continue to meet with the AAA and to have a second meeting in the fall at the SfN Annual Meeting.

In 1997, while Vivian Casagrande was the CC President, several of the officers and members of the club met informally at the SfN meeting to explore the possibilities of a move in greater detail. It was a convenient place to meet because a significant number CC members were regular attendees at the SfN meeting. At the 1998 SfN meeting the CC held a “Social” (this appeared in the program) to which all were invited; no formal program, just a party (I believe Krieg would have approved). The munchies, engineered by Charles Ribak and Efrain Azmitia, consisted of beer and chips.

By 1999, and with the outstanding help of Ted Jones (long-time CC member and the 1998-1999 SfN President), the CC staged an organized meeting under the header Special Interest Social entitled “Modern Perspectives on Cortical Interneurons”. The main speaker was Javier DeFelipe, a Cajal scholar of significant reputation, and other speakers included M. Celio, J. Morrison, P. Pasik, and C. Ribak. This social was well attended, had lively discussions, and set the stage for future growth and success. At the 2000 SfN meeting the Special Interest Social featured an outstanding debate on neurogenesis in the adult entitled “Old or New Neurons? — That is the Question”, Chaired by John Morrison with F. Gage and P. Rakic as the debaters, and in 2002 Larry Swanson Chaired, and Pasko Rakic moderated, an enthusiastic discussion concerning “Specification of Cortical Maps”. All of the Socials organized at the SfN meeting by the CC were very well received; attendance was excellent, there was broad interest in the CC as an organization, and a number of individuals expressed interest in joining the Club.

During this period of 1997-2002, the CC continued its affiliation with the AAA and continued to meet with the Anatomists at their annual meeting. In the spring of 2003 the CC met with the AAA for the last time, and in 2004 [under then CC president Larry Swanson] officially moved its annual meeting to the SfN. It was clear, early in this “testing period”, that a move to the SfN would be good for the CC and would, most assuredly, be a major factor in its long-term vitality.

Over the last several years the CC has been very successful at the SfN meeting. The Socials have featured interesting presentations, some on controversial topics, and all have been well received. Attendance has varied, but a large room is always packed; I would estimate that 150-250+ are routinely present at most CC Socials. Membership in the CC has also increased directly as a result of the Socials at SfN.

So, what is the outcome? Obviously very successful! The careful and thoughtful deliberations of the CC officers and membership, the approach to “test the water” (as it were) was well designed and carried out, and the transition was seamless. Based on its several very successful Socials at the SfN meeting in the interval of 1997-2002, the Club established a presence at SfN and realized that a move would be successful. All of the officers, past and present, and all of the membership, are delighted at the success of the CC at the SfN Meeting and look forward to the continued growth of the Club.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Larry Swanson for the invitation to write this brief recollection and to Charles Ribak and James Lynch for providing some background material.

American Association of Anatomists Program, 65th Meeting, 1952.
Proceedings of the Cajal Club, Volume 4, 1996.
Whitlock, DG. The Cajal club: Its origin, originator and benefactor, Wendell J. S. Krieg. Brain Res Rev 55:450-462, 2007.