Tag Archives: Regius Professors

Spot the Regius Professor!

Group outside the Physiology Laboratory, 1894

This lovely informal photograph taken outside the Physiology Laboratory c.1894, was found among the papers of Kenneth Franklin collected by Hugh Sinclair, nutritionist, and recently catalogued by the Saving Oxford Medicine team. Along with four small dogs hidden in the picture, there are also three Regius Professors of Medicine. The out-going Regius Professor, H.W. Acland (1857-1894), is the elderly gentleman, seated, centre right. His successor, John Scott Burdon Sanderson (1895-1904), is the slightly less elderly gentleman, seated centre left. Whilst the up and coming Regius Professor, Edward Farquhar Buzzard (1928-43), sits in the wings, front right.

A postcard from Farquhar Buzzard to Kenneth Franklin, written in 1936, adds further information about the photograph, ‘Three Regii in one group!…they did squabble in those days! & the ‘Burdon’ seems to have been a bit difficult at times’.

The online catalogue can be viewed here, and the papers can be consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room.

The archive of Professor Sir David Weatherall

In the late 1950s, David Weatherall, a Medical Officer on National Service with the RAMC, met Jaspir Thapa, daughter of a Gurkha soldier, in the children’s ward of the British Military Hospital, Singapore. Jaspir was profoundly anaemic and being kept alive by blood transfusions.  Weatherall studied the child and diagnosed her illness as thalassaemia. Thus began a distinguished research career.

The first portion of the archive of Professor Sir David Weatherall, molecular geneticist and Oxford Regius Professor of Medicine from 1992 to 2000, has been acquired by the Bodleian Library through an initiative of the Saving Oxford Medicine project. Sir David’s groundbreaking work on thalassaemia, a set of inherited blood disorders that affect the body’s ability to create red blood cells, has resulted in improved clinical treatment of the disease and the introduction of programmes for its management, particularly in developing countries. Largely due to him, Oxford University is recognised as a world leader in global health. Under his leadership, an Institute of Molecular Medicine was established at the University in 1989, renamed the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine on his retirement in 2000. Its scientists work on areas of molecular and cell biology that can improve the understanding and treatment of diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS.

Sir David with patients at a clinic in Sri Lanka

The sections of the archive now acquired include Sir David’s reminiscences of his time in Singapore and Malaya in 1959-61, correspondence regarding the setting up of the Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Programme at Mahidol University, Bangkok, in the late 1970s; papers relating to the development of the Institute of Molecular Medicine, beginning with Sir David’s initial proposal in 1983; papers relating to his evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology in the 1980s and 1990s, and to his roles as WHO consultant and lead writer of its Advisory Committee on Health Research report ‘Genomics and World Health’, 2002, and chair of the 2006 working group on the use of non-human primates in research. There is also material relating to his publications and contributions to conferences, meetings and medical debates, and his many appointments, honours and awards. Additions to these in due course will be Sir David’s scientific correspondence and laboratory records.

The archive will be catalogued before being made available to researchers in the Special Collections Reading Room.Listen to some of Sir David’s stories at:


Osler’s clock

Osler's Clock

Osler’s Clock
Copyright Bodleian Library 2011
Photography: Nick Cistone

Sir William Osler (1849-1919), Regius Professor from 1905 to 1919, is credited with pioneering bedside teaching, bringing medical students out of the lecture theatre and into the hospital wards. Osler was a prolific writer, author of The Principles and Practice of Medicine (Edinburgh, 1892) and many other works, and a regular user of the Bodleian Library. It was brought to our notice recently that a clock presented to the Library by him in 1912, which sits under the bust of Sir Thomas Bodley in Duke Humfrey’s Library, no longer chimed. We are glad to say that, as it approaches its centenary, the clock is chiming again and that an explanatory label is being designed. A file relating to the presentation of the clock survives among the Library’s records and shows that the clock was personally chosen by Osler, and purchased from R S Rowell, Jewellers, 115 High Street, Oxford, following the recommendation of Falconer Madan, Bodley’s Librarian, of
‘a clock with a good 18th century style of case, and striking hours and half hours on a gong with a non-irritant sound…’

The archives of the Regius Professors

Sir John Scott Burdon Sanderson (1828-1905), pathologist and physiologist, was the Regius Professor from 1895 to 1904.

In his earlier career as an experimental pathologist, Sanderson had advanced the understanding of the causes of infectious disease and the acceptance of germ theory in Britain. As a physiologist, he had undertaken research for Charles Darwin on the movement of the leaf of the Venus flytrap. In 1882 he was elected Oxford’s first Waynflete Professor of Physiology (a position endowed by Magdalen College in honour of their 15th century founder, William Waynflete).  Sanderson was instrumental in creating the Faculty of Medicine in 1885 and in reducing the length of the Oxford medical degree from eight to seven years.

Sanderson’s correspondence, diaries, notes and drafts of lectures and addresses and other papers are held by University College London. Further correspondence and papers are held by The National Library of Scotland and the Woodward Biomedical Library, University of British Columbia.

Caricature of John Scott Burdon Sanderson by Leslie Ward (‘Spy’) published in Vanity Fair, 17 May 1894

Oxford Medicine and the Regius Professors

As part of the project we want to disseminate information about relevant archives of key importance held elsewhere. We have begun by searching for the archives of Regius Professors of Medicine of the 20th century. Some of these are at the Wellcome Library in London, including that of Sir George Pickering, Regius Professor from 1956 to 1968, who, in the opinion of Dr Bent Juel-Jensen, Medical Officer to the University from 1976-90 and benefactor of the Bodleian Library (whose personal papers are also held here), did more than anyone else for the improvement of medical education at Oxford. Another distinction, by the way – was Pickering the only Regius Professor to have a University boat funded in his memory and named after him?