Lives of the fellows

Bruno Gans

b.22 February 1916 d.3 March 1975
MB BS Lond(1942) MD(1946) MRCP(1947) FRCP(1970) JP(1967-70)

Bruno Gans was born in Heidelberg, the son of Oscar Gans, Professor of Dermatology, Rector and Dean of Frankfurt University. His mother’s name was Bertha Frederica Carlotta and her father, who was a cheese merchant of Bremen, had the family name of Sweers.

He received his primary education in Germany and arrived in England in 1933 at the age of 17, where to adjust himself to his new educational environment he was sent to a crammers and entered University College Hospital in 1936, where he studied until 1942.

After qualification he worked in general medicine at St. Mary Abbott’s Hospital in 1942, and then at the Whittington Hospital in 1943. For 2 ½ years he worked at the North Middlesex Hospital and then went to the National Temperance Hospital. His entrance into paediatrics began when he worked at the Sydenham Children’s Hospital in 1947 and at the age of 32, he became consultant at Lewisham Hospital, followed by a consultant appointment at the Miller, St. Alfege’s and St. John’s Hospitals. He received a merit award in 1967.

He went to Lagos in 1959 where he stayed until 1961, working as a paediatrician at the General Hospital and as adviser to the Children’s Hospital at Massey Street which was opened after he left. During that time he became renowned for his circular letters which he sent to his friends and colleagues, and these constitute a memorable record of his experiences with African medicine. His deep conviction of a place for European doctors to work in Africa became one of the outstanding characteristics of his later life. As an illustration of this he started a weekly evening clinic at Notting Hill Gate where he saw the children of West Indian families. As further evidence of his love of African medicine he went to Biafra in 1968 for Oxfam, where he worked at the Umahiah Hospital for 3 months.

It would be fair to say that Gans never really came to terms with his return to medicine in this country. However, he did a great deal towards the growth of the Paediatric Department at Lewisham Hospital. He was a man of sensitive and delicate nature with a great interest in the arts and the humanities, and had a rich private collection of contemporary art.

He married in July 1939 Josephine Mary Barry, the daughter of John Barry who lived in Bedfordshire and was of private means. She was one of four sisters. She accompanied him to Africa and served as a great support to him throughout his life.

D Morris

[Lancet, 1975, 1, 757, 814]

(Volume VI, page 188)

<< Back to List