Robert Burr Livingston was born in 1918, received his bachelors degree from Stanford University in 1940 and graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1944, where he did his residency in internal medicine. His major academic appointments include the Yale University School of Medicine (1946-1952), the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine (1952-1957) and the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine (1964-1989). In 1956 he was appointed Director of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. In 1964 he became the founding chair of the Department of Neurosciences at UCSD. Throughout his career, Dr. Livingston was active in several anti-nuclear weapons and peace organizations, including the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which was awarded the 1985 Nobel Prize for Peace.
Dr. Livingston's research has been concerned with investigating combinations of nervous and mental functions, using neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, behavioral, and clinical techniques. He has published widely in these fields, including chapters in John F. Fulton's PHYSIOLOGY OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM and a dozen chapters in Best and Taylor's PHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS OF MEDICAL PRACTICE. While a professor in the Department of Neurosciences at UCSD, he developed the Neurosciences Study Plan for students in neurosciences. He is well known for his work in the cinemorphology of the human brain, using a technique developed at UCSD by Roy E. Mills which involves slicing, staining and photographing very thin sections of the whole human brain in sequence. An award-winning film on this subject, titled THE HUMAN BRAIN: A DYNAMIC VIEW OF ITS STRUCTURES AND ORGANIZATION was produced in 1976 by Sy Wexler.
Dr. Livingston has also made significant contributions to the study of the relationship between chronic undernutrition and human brain development, and he was involved in a project titled the "Committee for Undernourished People". In 1986, the Army Medical Corps Research and Development Command selected Dr. Livingston's Laboratory for Quantitative Morphology in the Department of Neuroscience at UCSD to establish a national research and development program to construct a prototype computer system that would be capable of mapping in three dimensions and displaying the entire human brain at microscopic levels of detail. Individuals involved at UCSD and Scripps Institution of Oceanography included R. Livingston, F. Bloom, H. Karten, D. Armstrong, J. Morrison, W. Young, and S. Foote.
From the guide to the Robert B. Livingston Papers, 1935 - 1990, (University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.)