Nobel laureate, neuroscience educator David Hubel dies

Sept. 24, 2013 at 2:21 PM
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BOSTON, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- David Hubel, a Harvard University scientist and Nobel laureate who helped changed the understanding of the brain, has died at the age of 87, his family said.

His son said Hubel, one of three neurological researchers who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research on human vision, died Sunday of kidney failure. He died of kidney failure, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

Harvard researcher Torsten Wiesel, California Institute of Technology psycho-biologist Roger Sperry and Hubel were recognized for their contribution to the understanding of how brain cells transmit visual information to create an image.

"There has been a myth that the brain cannot understand itself, the brain or the mind. It is compared to a man trying to lift himself by his own bootstraps" Hubel told the Globe in 1981. "We feel this is nonsense, the brain can be studied just like the kidney can."

Hubel, recently of Newton, Mass., was born in Ontario and grew up in Montreal. His family said he earned his medical degree from McGill University Faculty of Medicine and began his medical research career in the U.S. Army.

He joined Harvard Medical School after working at Johns Hopkins University.

His family said Hubel loved to teach and did so even as he battled cancer and his kidneys began to fail, the Globe reported. While he officially retired several years ago, Hubel taught as a professor emeritus.

Hubel wanted to ensure that neuroscience education would proliferate and established research scholarships at several universities in the United States and Canada, the Globe said.

Survivors include three sons and four grandchildren.

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