- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Wladyslaw Sterling

Born  1877
Died  1943

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Polish Neurologist, born January 14, 1877, Warsaw; died 1943.

Biography of Wladyslaw Sterling

This biography was submitted by Piotr Flatau:

Wladyslaw Sterling was the son of a composer and conductor. Many of his relatives were medical doctors, and he married the sister of the famous immunologist professor Ludwik Hirschfeld. He was associated with Edward Flatau Warsaw school of neurology.

Sterling was a prolific researcher and published about 200 papers in the medical literature. His name is associated with dystrophia genitosclerodermica (1916-1926), degeneration pyramidoextrapyramidalis
(1933-1934), and epilepsia extrapyramidalis (1924). His life long interest was medical psychology, clinical endocrinology, and children’s illnesses of the central nervous system.

He was multitalented and had phenomenal memory and he was music lover. He attracted instant attention in every gathering due to his witty style and great sense of humour. Sterling was murdered in 1943 when Gestapo killed him and his wife in their bed.

In 1911 Georg Theodor Ziehen (1862-1950) and Hermann Oppenheim (1858-1919), independently of each other, described torsion spasm, now known as Ziehen-Oppenheim syndrome. The same year the Edward Flatau and Wladyslaw Sterling described the same condition. According to Roswell Eldridge, this description is probably the most astute of the three.


  • E. Flatau and W. Sterling:
    Progressiver Torsionspasms bei Kindern. Zeitschrift für die Gesamte Neurologie und Psychiatrie. Originalien, Berlin, 1911, 7: 586-612.
  • E. J. Herman:
    History of Polish Neurology. Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, 1975.
  • Roswell Eldridge:
    Edward Flatau, Wladyslaw Sterling, Torsion spasm in Jewish children, and the early history of human genetics. Advances in Neurology, 1976, 14:105-14.

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