Lives of the fellows

David Michael Mitchell

b.3 June 1909 d.19 April 1995
BA Dubl(1931) MB BCh BAO(1933) MA(1935) MRCPI(1936) FRCPI(1938) MD( 1939) FACP(1970) FRCP(1974) FRCP Edin(1977)

David Michael Mitchell will be remembered as an architect of the resurrection of Irish medicine after the Second World War. His forefathers were Scottish poplin weavers who moved to Ireland in the last century. He was born and educated in Dublin, and went on to Trinity College, where he qualified in 1933, weighed down with scholarships, medals and honours. In 1937, after a period of ill health, he went to the United States to study at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Returning to Ireland, he was first appointed an assistant physician and later a consultant at the Adelaide Hospital, Dublin, described as the "flagship academic hospital of the Protestant community" by the Archbishop of Dublin. He remained at the hospital until his retirement in 1974.

He was appointed professor of materia medica at the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland in 1945 and served in the post until 1960. His distinctive qualities as a leader were recognized by his appointment in 1972 as president of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland. In the same year he was elected president of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland. In 1982, the centenary year of the Royal Academy, he was made an honorary fellow, an award given to only six previous Irish doctors.

In 1971 he was appointed to the Irish Medical Registration Council and was elected president of the Irish Medical Council in 1979. He was especially active in the areas of education, examinations and European medical affairs. In 1981 he was chosen as president of the International Congress of the European Association of Internal Medicine.

He was a president and treasurer of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, and his stature was recognized internationally by his admission to the Fellowship of the American College of Physicians and to the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London and Edinburgh. The RCPI has recognized his unique contribution to Irish medicine by the yearly Mitchell lecture and medal.

He was an outspoken man who was not interested in anything less than excellence and certainly he never gave less.

In 1944 he married Dorothy Moore, also a doctor. They had three daughters and shared interests in music and gardening. Both suffered from osteoporosis and David died three days after fracturing a femur, Dorothy died three days later.

Donald G Weir

[J.Irish.coll.phys.surg., 1995,24(4),306-308]

(Volume X, page 343)

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