James W. Lance was a clinical neurologist who created the first university-based department of neurology in Australia. He championed academic enquiry and the scientific basis of clinical practice, and his research had two major themes, motor control and headache. After his doctoral studies on the pyramidal tract of the cat, he became a pioneer of the new field of motor control studied in human subjects, making seminal contributions on the control of muscle tone, reflexes and movement in healthy subjects and the pathophysiology of movement disorders in patients. At the same time he developed a clinical research program into the mechanisms and management of headache, in particular migraine. These studies evolved into parallel experiments in human subjects, cats and monkeys, probing the control of the cerebral circulation and the mechanisms underlying craniofacial pain, for which he received international acclaim in both fields. He received international and Australian honours and was the first practising clinician to be elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. He is rightfully credited with leading the development of academic neurology in Australia and overseas.
This memoir was originally published in Historical Records of Australian Science, vol.32, no.2, 2021. It was written by David Burke.
© 2024 Australian Academy of Science