Lives of the fellows

Isaac Muende

b.9 October 1900 d.29 September 1987
BSc Lond(1920) MRCS LRCP(1926) MB BS(1927) MRCP(1940) FRCP(1952)

Isaac was born in London and lived there all his life. He died peacefully at his home where he had lived for more than 60 years. From school he went to King’s College, London, to study engineering and obtained a BSc with honours, but he then decided that he preferred medicine and entered the medical school of Charing Cross Hospital. He qualified with the Conjoint and graduated MB BS in 1927.

At that time dermatology was grouped with ophthalmology and otorhinolaryngology as a ‘specials’ post in the student curriculum. Many regarded it as almost voluntary, or paid minimal attention to it. One day the student Muende crept silently into a ‘skin outpatient clinic’ - to find himself alone. As he turned, about to leave, he was spotted by the dermatologist J M H Macleod [Munk's Roll, Vol.V,p.260], who called him over to ‘look at’ some feature on a patient’s skin. There was no escape, and Muende remained there as the only student for the entire morning. But Macleod had sown a seed of interest which grew steadily.

After his qualification, they met again and Macleod encouraged him to specialize in dermatology. He took him to St John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin in Leicester Square, where Macleod was a physician and director of pathology. Muende naturally became interested in skin pathology, and soon afterwards was awarded the Radcliffe Crocker travelling fellowship and gold medal. This fellowship and medal was endowed by Radcliffe Crocker of University College Hospital [Munk's Roll, Vol.IV, p.321] to enable a ‘dermatologist in training’ to travel abroad in order to further his education. Muende went to work in Bruno Bloch’s department in Zurich, where he found himself among several future world leaders in dermatology, including Marion B Sulzberger and Sam Peck. He also spent some time at the Allgemeinerkrankenhaus in Vienna and the Hopital Saint Louis in Paris.

On his return to London in 1931 Muende was appointed physician and pathologist to St John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin, where he spent every afternoon in the laboratory. About the same time, a full-time technician was appointed, Reginald Syms, with whom he had a lifelong friendship. Isaace Muende and Reg Syms were the only laboratory staff until July 1948 when, with the introduction of the NHS, Muende was replaced by a full-time consultant pathologist. But during the previous years they had updated Macleod’s textbooks on The Pathology of the skin. Muende obtained his membership of the College on his published work in 1940, and was elected a Fellow in 1952.

Muende also worked as a clinical assistant to Sir Ernest Graham-Little [Munk's Roll, Vol.IV, p.475] at St Mary’s Hospital, where he was soon recognized by the students as an outstanding teacher. He became consultant dermatologist at Edgware General and Willesden Hospitals, as well as St John’s Hospital in Leicester Square. At all of them he had a large entourage of trainees who always found it worthwhile to attend his outpatient clinic. He enjoyed teaching and shared his knowledge willingly. He would often take the trainees in his car, in which the talk was always on dermatology. Many will remember his custom, at the end of an outpatient clinic, of taking a gold case out of his waistcoat pocket and offering cigarettes to everyone in the group.

He was unfortunate in not obtaining a consultant post at a teaching hospital, but he was an enthusiastic teacher to numerous post-war registrars. He read the dermatological literature widely and was happy to discuss any subject with them. He was the author, with J M H Macleod, of A practical Handbook of pathology of the skin, London, H K Lewis & Co, 1940, which went into several editions.

Isaac Muende had one brother and three sisters. He remained an elegant bachelor, always neat and well dressed, a meticulous person. He played tennis as a student, was a keen chess and bridge player, and a linguist. Although he had a large private practice, he gave up all dermatology with his retirement from hospital work at the age of 65. He spent a lot of time at his second home in Israel, developing a keen interest in history and archaeology. He was a member of the British Archaeological Association.

Muende was a generous man in numerous ways. In 1963 he set up the Isaac Muende Charity Trust with a donation of 10,000 pounds of investments from his own portfolio. The Trustees were his accountant, Thomas E Fay FCA, J Mazure (since deceased), and his nephew J H Muende, also a doctor. Annual donations were made to some 30 charities, including Boys Town Jerusalem, Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh Foundation, the British Technion Society, the Society of Friends of Jewish Refugees, Friends of the Hebrew University, the British Council of the Shaare Zadek Hospital, Jerusalem, and the Jewish Blind Society. He showed a special interest in charities benefiting children and Boys Town Jerusalem was probably the recipient of the largest donations. By April 1987 the Charity’s funds had increased to 222,000 pounds. It was his wish that the Charity should continue to make donations for a further ten years after his death, at which time the Trust would be wound up and the capital distributed to various charities.

CD Calnan

[Brit.med.J., 1987,295,1149]

(Volume VIII, page 353)

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