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Pioneers and Personalities

There have been many outstanding 'pioneers and personalities' who have had a substantial influence in the foundation of medical education in Wales. Some of these are mentioned below:


Professor Arthur Bloom
Professor Arthur Bloom - World authority on haemophilia and von Willebrand’s disease

Professor of Haematology at UWCM (1976) and Honorary Director of the Cardiff Haemophilia Reference Centre (1979-1983). 

A distinguished academic, Arthur Bloom served on numerous scientific committees and advisory boards, national and international, he was a recipient of many prestigious prizes including the Macfarlane Medal of the UK Haemophiliac Society (1991). He edited (with Duncan Thomas) the definitive textbook "Haemostasis and Thrombosis".


Dr William Thomas Edwards
Dr William Thomas Edwards - Founder of the Cardiff Medical School

William Thomas Edwards, born and brought up in Caerphilly, was the great-grandson of William Edwards, the celebrated pastor of the historic Groes-wen chapel and architect (in 1756) of the well-known single-span bridge crossing the river Taff at Pontypridd, South Wales. After training in London he returned to Wales, becoming physician to the Glamorganshire & Monmouthshire Infirmary in 1862, retaining his connection with this hospital and its successor, until his retirement. 

His standing as the leading medical man in South Wales ensured his election to the presidency of the British Medical Association in 1885 during the year of its annual meeting in Cardiff. He was the leading advocate for the establishment of a Medical School in Cardiff and a generous donor of funds for the cause. He was quoted as saying, "I wanted every Welsh boy to get the fullest opportunity to study medicine at home." He served for many years as Vice-President of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire and as Vice-President of the Cardiff Liberal Association.

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 Professor Sir Patrick Forrest - Instigator of the British Breast Screening Programme

Patrick Forrest occupied the Chair of Surgery at the Welsh National School of Medicine for nine years, during which time he built up a thriving clinical, teaching and research department. His personal area of expertise originated in gastric medicine, but later became exclusively concerned with breast cancer. He developed a comprehensive clinical service for women with breast cancer, backed up by laboratory research. He chaired a Working Group, established in 1985, to investigate the feasibility of breast cancer screening. The Group proposed that screening, using mammography, should be offered to all women aged between 50 and 64 every 3 years as part of the NHS, and also made available to older women on request. The screening programme manifests itself today as Breast Test Wales.

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Professor Jethro Gough
Professor Jethro Gough - Expert on the lung disease, pneumoconiosis

Jethro Gough qualified in medicine at Cardiff in 1927, and obtained the University of Wales MD in 1930, the third to do so after D.T. Davies and J.W. Tudor Thomas. He was to spend virtually all of his professional career at the Welsh National School of Medicine (WNSM) where he was appointed to the Chair of Pathology in 1948. 

He made important contributions to the understanding of lung disease and gained an international reputation in pulmonary pathology, particularly for his work on coal workers pneumoconiosis. Along with Mr Wentworth, a senior member of the technical staff at WNSM's Institute of Pathology, he developed the Gough Wentworth large lung section technique which became used world-wide in the study of lungs and other organs.

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Professor Frederick Heaf
Professor Frederick Heaf - Inventor of the multiple-puncture tuberculin test

Frederick Heaf, David Davies Professor of Tuberculosis at Llandough Hospital, outlined his new test in the Lancet, July 28, 1951. Arguing that the number of tuberculin tests necessary to determine whether an individual is a non-reactor to tuberculin was a disadvantage, he outlined his single test using multiple-puncture apparatus. 

His invention allowed mass tuberculin surveys of large groups of the population to be more easily administered.

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Professor Bernard Knight CBE
Professor Bernard Knight CBE - Eminent forensic pathologist

Professor Knight's association with the College dates back to 1948 when he began working as a junior lab technician prior to becoming a medical student. He moved into forensic pathology and served as Consultant and Lecturer in forensic medicine for over thirty years and as Professor of Forensic Pathology at UWCM (1980-1996). Involved in cases world-wide, he was the pathologist attached to the notorious Fred West case in 1994. 

During his student days at the Welsh National School of Medicine, he was editor of the student magazine, "Leech", and between 1970 and 1982 he produced the "Welsh Medical Gazette" with Dr Eric Payne. A prolific author of over a dozen forensic medicine and pathology textbooks, he has served as technical adviser to several fictional crime and medical series on television.

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Sir Thomas Lewis
Sir Thomas Lewis - Pioneer of the electrocardiograph (ECG)

Thomas Lewis was born in Cardiff in 1881, and entered University College Cardiff in 1898. It was here that he began his pre-clinical work: the old physiological laboratory in Newport Road was where he learnt his basic science and experimental technique. In 1908, he met Dr James Mackenzie, already a pioneer of cardiac investigation, who encouraged him to study irregular heartbeat action. He also acquired his first electrocardiograph (ECG) machine and began to study cardiac arrhythmias. 

He returned to Wales in 1940 when medical students from University College Hospital London were evacuated to Cardiff. Thomas Lewis took charge of teaching them at Llandough Hospital, Cardiff. In 1941, he was awarded the Copley Medal of the Royal Society - which placed him in the company of such eminent scientists as Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard.

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Professor William Mushin CBE
Professor William Mushin CBE - Transformer of anaesthesia services in Wales

Only a little over fifty years ago there were no more than a dozen properly trained anaesthetists in the whole of Wales. One of the most prominent figures responsible for the transformation in anaesthesia services was William Mushin. Appointed Senior Lecturer in the Welsh National School of Medicine (WNSM), he set himself two targets - the improvement of anaesthetic services in Wales and the raising of the status of British anaesthesia as a speciality.

In 1953, the first university-funded Chair of Anaesthesia in the UK was created in the Medical School in Cardiff and William Mushin was appointed to the Chair in open competition. While he was rapidly becoming a world figure in medicine, his first allegiance thereafter was always to Wales and to the WNSM, serving as the Vice-Provost from 1958 until 1960.

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Dr Alfred Sheen
Dr Alfred Sheen - Leading promotor of medical education in Wales

Leicester-born, and having received his medical training in Madras and at Guy’s Hospital, London, Alfred Sheen became the leading surgeon at the Glamorganshire & Monmouthshire Infirmary and was chiefly responsible for persuading the Marquess of Bute to provide the site to enable the hospital’s relocation to Newport Road, Cardiff in 1883. Described by his son William as having a "genius for secretarial work and organisation", he was in the centre of fund-raising efforts to establish a Medical School in Cardiff, his role being acknowledged by his election to the Council of the University College of South Wales & Monmouthshire in 1893. 

As Secretary to the national meeting of the British Medical Association in Cardiff in 1885, he included dances in the social programme for the first time, a highly successful innovation.

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Sir Clement Price Thomas

Sir Clement Price Thomas - Eminent thoracic surgeon -  laying the foundation stone for the Tenovus Institute, Heath Park, Cardiff.


Clement Price Thomas attended the Cardiff Medical School where he won the Hughes Medal in Anatomy and an entrance scholarship to the Westminster Hospital Medical School. Working alongside his fellow Welshman, Arthur Tudor Edwards at Westminster Hospital, the two men were among the pioneers in the rapidly expanding field of thoracic surgery. He made major contributions to the surgery of tuberculosis and lung tumours. A process called ‘sleeve resection of the bronchus’, which he made his own, was copied throughout the world. 

In 1951, he performed a thoracotomy on King George VI. Honoured in his own country, he was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Wales in 1953 and, as President of the Welsh National School of Medicine, supported the re-establishing of his old School at Heath Park.

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Dr J.W. (later Sir) Tudor Thomas
Dr J.W. (later Sir) Tudor Thomas - Specialist in ophthalmic surgery

Dr Tudor Thomas was a specialist in ophthalmic surgery, surgeon to a number of South Wales hospitals and served as a clinical teacher in ophthalmics at the Welsh National School of Medicine. His pioneering surgery on the cornea, which restored the sight of a patient who had been nearly blind for 27 years, attracted worldwide interest in 1934. 

He was nominated as the first President of the Cardiff Medical Old Students Association, inaugurated in 1958, to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Welsh National School of Medicine.

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Professor Arthur G. Watkins
Professor Arthur G. Watkins - Eminent paediatrician

Affectionately known as 'Pop', Arthur Goronwy Watkins was an influential paediatrician and staunch supporter of holistic medicine. Appointed a Consultant at the age of 28, he was to hold the first Chair of Child Health at the Welsh National School of Medicine from 1954 until 1968 and served as President of the British Paediatric Association (1966-1967).

He played a prominent role in the early development of the College's Medical and Dental Schools and served for 15 years as the Dean of Clinical and Postgraduate Studies.

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Sir Keith Peters
Sir Keith Peters - Eminent immunologist

Sir Keith Peters was a graduate of the Welsh National School of Medicine, he started his career in junior posts in the United Cardiff Hospitals in 1965. He then spent four years on a Medical Research Council Clinical Research Fellowship and rose through the ranks at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, where he became Professor and Director of the Department of Medicine before moving to his present post of Regius Professor of Physic at the University of Cambridge in 1987. 

In 1996-97, he was elected to the Chair of the Heads of Medical Schools and Deans of UK Faculties of Medicine. He became eminent in his own research field of immunological kidney disease, work that was recognised by a Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians, a Fellowship of the Royal Society and Membership of the American Philosophical Society. He received a Knighthood in 1993. He was the Founder Chairman of the newly-merged Cardiff University’s Council.