The case for consistent use of medical eponyms by eliminating possessive forms

Kwabena Ayesu, Brenda Nguyen, Stephanie Harris, Steve Carlan


The objective of this commentary is to highlight the pervasive usage of both forms of medical eponyms in medical literature amongst prestigious medical journals indexed in the PubMed database. This use of eponyms poses a source of confusion in literature searching as well as a lack of consistency in medical education. The adoption of consistent non-possessive forms should be encouraged by editors, reviewers, and publishers.


Medical Eponyms; Searching Medical Literature; Named Diseases

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Classification and nomenclature of malformation. Lancet. 1974 Apr;303(7861):798. DOI:

Haines DE, Olry R. “James Parkinson did not die of his own personal disease...he died of a stroke” eponyms: possessive or nonpossessive? J Hist Neurosci. 2003 Sep;12(3):305–7. DOI:

Macaskill MR, Anderson TJ. Whose name is it anyway? varying patterns of possessive usage in eponymous neurodegenerative diseases. Peer J. 2013 Apr;1:e67. DOI:

World Health Organization. WHO style guide [Internet]. The Organization; 2004 [cited 28 Aug 2016]. .

Iverson C, Christiansen S, Flanagin A. AMA manual of style: a guide for authors and editors. 10th ed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press; 2007.



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