Hunter, John

SUBJECT AREA: Medical technology
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b. 14 (registered 13) February 1728 East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, Scotland
d. 16 October 1793 London, England
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Scottish surgeon and anatomist, pioneer of experimental methods in medicine and surgery.
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The younger brother of William Hunter (1718–83), who was of great distinction but perhaps of slightly less achievement in similar fields, he owed much of his early experience to his brother; William, after a period at Glasgow University, moved to St George's Hospital, London. In his later teens, John assisted a brother-in-law with cabinet-making. This appears to have contributed to the lifelong mechanical skill which he displayed as a dissector and surgeon. This skill was particularly obvious when, after following William to London in 1748, he held post at a number of London teaching hospitals before moving to St George's in 1756. A short sojourn at Oxford in 1755 appears to have been unfruitful.
Despite his deepening involvement in the study of comparative anatomy, facilitated by the purchase of animals from the Tower menagerie and travelling show people, he accepted an appointment as a staff surgeon in the Army in 1760, participating in the expedition to Belle Isle and also serving in Portugal. He returned home with over 300 specimens in 1763 and, until his appointment as Surgeon to St George's in 1768, was heavily involved in the examination of this and other material, as well as in studies of foetal testicular descent, placental circulation, the nature of pus and lymphatic circulation. In 1772 he commenced lecturing on the theory and practice of surgery, and in 1776 he was appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to George III.
He is rightly regarded as the founder of scientific surgery, but his knowledge was derived almost entirely from his own experiments and observations. His contemporaries did not always accept or understand the concepts which led to such aphorisms as, "to perform an operation is to mutilate a patient we cannot cure", and his written comment to his pupil Jenner : "Why think. Why not trie the experiment". His desire to establish the aetiology of gonorrhoea led to him infecting himself, as a result of which he also contracted syphilis. His ensuing account of the characteristics of the disease remains a classic of medicine, although it is likely that the sequelae of the condition brought about his death at a relatively early age. From 1773 he suffered recurrent anginal attacks of such a character that his life "was in the hands of any rascal who chose to annoy and tease him". Indeed, it was following a contradiction at a board meeting at St George's that he died.
By 1788, with the death of Percival Pott, he had become unquestionably the leading surgeon in Britain, if not Europe. Elected to the Royal Society in 1767, the extraordinary variety of his collections, investigations and publications, as well as works such as the "Treatise on the natural history of the human teeth" (1771–8), gives testimony to his original approach involving the fundamental and inescapable relation of structure and function in both normal and disease states. The massive growth of his collections led to his acquiring two houses in Golden Square to contain them. It was his desire that after his death his collection be purchased and preserved for the nation. It contained 13,600 specimens and had cost him £70,000. After considerable delay, Par-liament voted inadequate sums for this purpose and the collection was entrusted to the recently rechartered Royal College of Surgeons of England, in whose premises this remarkable monument to the omnivorous and eclectic activities of this outstanding figure in the evolution of medicine and surgery may still be seen. Sadly, some of the collection was lost to bombing during the Second World War. His surviving papers were also extensive, but it is probable that many were destroyed in the early nineteenth century.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
FRS 1767. Copley Medal 1787.
Bibliography
1835–7, Works, ed. J.F.Palmer, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London.
MG

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • HUNTER John — (1728 1793)(retrato) [véase http://www.iqb.es/diccio/h/hu.htm#hunterw]: anatomista y cirujano inglés. Acuñó el término glositis de Hunter Diccionario ilustrado de Términos Médicos.. Alvaro Galiano. 2010 …   Diccionario médico

  • Hunter, John — born Feb. 13, 1728, Long Calderwood, Lanarkshire, Scot. died Oct. 16, 1793, London, Eng. British surgeon. He never attempted to become a medical doctor but assisted in the preparation of dissections for a course of anatomy taught by his brother… …   Universalium

  • Hunter, John — (13 feb. 1728, Long Calderwood, Lanarkshire, Escocia–16 oct. 1793, Londres, Inglaterra). Cirujano británico. Nunca intentó ser doctor en medicina, pero ayudaba en la preparación de disecciones para un curso de anatomía que dictaba su hermano… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • HUNTER, JOHN —    anatomist and surgeon, born near East Kilbride, Lanarkshire; started practice as a surgeon in London, became surgeon to St. George s Hospital, and at length surgeon to the king; is distinguished for his operations in the cure of aneurism; he… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • HUNTER, John Irvine (1898-1924) — anatomist was born at Bendigo, Victoria, on 24 January 1898. His father, Henry Hunter, who married Isabella Hodgson, was an unsuccessful small merchant. When about eight years of age Hunter had a severe illness, was sent to recuperate with an… …   Dictionary of Australian Biography

  • HUNTER, John (1737-1821) — second governor of New South Wales was born on 29 August 1737, at Leith, Scotland. The date usually given is 1738, but F. M. Bladen, in Journal and Proceedings Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. I, states that he was christened at Leith on …   Dictionary of Australian Biography

  • John Irvine Hunter — (24 January 1898 ndash; 10 December 1924) was an Australian professor of Anatomy. Hunter was born in Bendigo, Victoria, the third son of Henry Hunter, an unsuccessful small merchant, and Isabella (née Hodgson). When about eight years of age… …   Wikipedia

  • John T. Hunter — Nacimiento 1932 Sydney Residencia Australia Nacionalidad australiano Campo botánico, profesor …   Wikipedia Español

  • John Hunter — John Hunter. John Hunter (13 de febrero de 1728 16 de octubre de 1793), fue cirujano y anatomista, y padre de la aproximación experimental a la medicina. Contenido …   Wikipedia Español

  • John hunter (chirurgien) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir John Hunter. John Hunter Gravure d après Joshua Reynolds …   Wikipédia en Français

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