Lives of the fellows

Robert Cory

b.1844 d.19 March 1900
BA Cantab(1869) MA MD MRCS FRCP(1887)

Robert Cory was born in London, the son of John Augustus Cory, architect, of Carlisle. He was educated at Rossall and Pembroke College, Cambridge, graduating in natural sciences in 1869. His subsequent clinical training at St. Thomas’s Hospital was interrupted when he served as an assistant surgeon in the Alice-Darmstadt Hospital during the Franco-German War. Having qualified in 1871, he obtained house appointments at St. Thomas’s and at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. In 1875, after a short period of practice in Manchester, he was appointed assistant obstetric physician to St. Thomas’s, where he was also made lecturer on forensic medicine and director of the vaccination department. It was chiefly for his work on vaccination that he was generally known. In 1881, he was associated with Sir George Buchanan in founding the Government Animal Vaccine Station and became its director. Six years later, he was able to record that, in 38,000 vaccinations, in one instance only had he twice failed to secure a satisfactory reaction. An ardent experimentalist, in order to show that syphilitic infection could not be transferred by pure lymph unless mixed with blood, he inoculated himself, in 1886, from a syphilitic patient. He was proved tragically wrong, and from the resulting impairment to his health he never recovered fully. His retirement from his obstetric work became necessary in 1896 but he retained charge of the vaccination department and was given the status of physician. He lectured on vaccination at Cambridge from 1890 to 1900 and published a book on The Theory and Practice of Vaccination in 1897. The value and self-sacrifice of Cory’s work was recognised by the award of the Stewart prize by the B.M.A. in 1886. Cory married a daughter of Commander Langridge, R.N, in 1872.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1900; B.M.J., 1900; Parsons, iii, 237; Al.Cantab., ii, 143]

(Volume IV, page 320)

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