Lives of the fellows

John Mitchell Bruce

b.19 October 1846 d.7 July 1929
CVO(1919) MA Aberd(1866) MB Lond(1870) Hon LLD Aberd MD Lond FRCP(1878) Hon FRCPI

Born near Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, the son of A. Bruce, John Mitchell Bruce went to Aberdeen Grammar School as a boy. From there he proceeded to the University, where he took his M.A. degree in 1866. Afterwards he studied medicine at the Middlesex Hospital in London, gaining several distinctions, including the University scholarship for forensic medicine, and graduating as M.B. in 1870. He completed his training with postgraduate studies in pathology at Vienna and under Burdon Sanderson and Klein at the Brown Institution. A brief period as resident at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary intervened before he began a lifelong association with Charing Cross Hospital by obtaining the post of lecturer on physiology there in 1871. Two years later he was elected assistant physician and in 1882 full physician, becoming consulting physician on retiring in 1904. After relinquishing his first lectureship in 1877, he taught materia medica till 1890 and then medicine till 1901. He was also dean of the Medical School from 1883 to 1890—one of the most formative periods in its development. Other institutions which Mitchell Bruce served as physician included the East London Children’s Hospital, the Brompton Hospital and the King Edward VII Sanatorium, Midhurst. Cambridge, London and Manchester Universities and the Conjoint Board appointed him as Examiner on several occasions. At the Royal College of Physicians he served as Censor and delivered the Lumleian Lectures in 1911 and the Harveian Oration in 1913. He was, however, best known to the profession as the author of Materia Medica and Therapeutics (1884), of which some 70,000 copies were sold in his lifetime, and of The Principles of Treatment (1899), which was reprinted three times. Mitchell Bruce was also an editor of The Practitioner for a time and an assistant editor of Quain’s Dictionary of Medicine. He was, perhaps, the most brilliant teacher of his day at Charing Cross, winning his students’ attention by his charm, consideration and lucidity, although liable to cause irritation by a certain lack of punctuality. He was created C.V.O. in 1919. Mitchell Bruce, who was married and had one son, died at Harley Street, London.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1929; B.M.J., 1929; Presidential Address to R.C.P., 1930, 8]

(Volume IV, page 255)

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