Lives of the fellows

Antony Joseph Duggan

b.13 May 1920 d.4 December 2004
MB BS Lond(1943) MD(1948) DTM&H(1948) MRCP(1978) FRCP(1978)

Tony Duggan was a leading expert on African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) and later, as a member of the staff of the Wellcome Museum of Medical Science, became a most successful curator of the Wellcome Museum in Euston Road, London.

Duggan, the son of a welfare officer, Thomas Daniel Duggan, and his wife, who had been a nurse and health visitor, was born in east London. He was educated at St Bonaventure's Grammar School, Queen Mary College, and the London Hospital Medical College. Following junior appointments at his teaching hospital and the Albert Dock Hospital, he joined the Colonial Service, in which he became a senior medical officer. In 1944, Duggan joined the Sleeping Sickness Service, in which he was initially engaged on tsetse-fly control in Nigeria. He was based at the West African Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research. Later, with M P Hutchinson, he set about testing E H Friedheim's new arsenicals, establishing the place of melarson in the chemotherapy of cerebral involvement in that disease, and he also worked on the value of pentamidine and suramin in treatment.

Returning to England in 1953, he became a registrar in pathology at the Central Middlesex Hospital, and began his long association with the Wellcome organizations; in 1960 Duggan became director of the Wellcome Museum of Medical Science. He inherited a somewhat 'run down' museum, which he converted into a splendid (and widely renowned) institution frequented by several generations of students, post-graduates and even members of the public (including schoolchildren). When the Wellcome Trust took over the Wellcome building in 1984, Duggan retired. The following year, the museum was transferred to the Wellcome Tropical Institute, and closed (with the disposal of most of its contents) in 1988. Duggan was extremely disappointed at this move. A few of his slides and displays have been preserved in the Trust's CD series Tropics in international health.

Duggan served the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene well - as secretary, treasurer, vice-president and president (from 1981 to 1983). He was also largely instrumental in the creation of the Wellcome Trust's Centres for Tropical Medicine in the UK, which led to the creation of several centres for clinical and laboratory research and training in universities and medical schools in tropical countries.

Tony Duggan was an extremely modest man, quiet, well-read and verging on the shy. He was a true and worthy successor to the great pioneers of tropical medicine, and 'medicine in the tropics', many of whom he knew personally. Most of his publications were devoted to tropical medicine, and especially African trypanosomiasis.

In 1948, he married Christine Rose, daughter of Francis Joseph Blake, a company director, and they had three sons and two daughters. He died as a result of tuberculosis, and his funeral service was held at Our Lady of Lourdes, Wanstead - where he had lived for most of his life.

G C Cook

[Brit.med.J.,2005,330,366; Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg,2005,99,481-2]

(Volume XII, page web)

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