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Donald Hunter CBE FRCP (11 February 1898 – 11 December 1978) was a British physician and author of a classic text on occupational medicine, The Diseases of Occupations.

Life and worksEdit

Hunter was born in the East End of London. His father was George Hunter, a deputy engineer in the General Post Office. He entered The London Hospital in 1915 but left in World War I to become a surgeon probationer RNVR in HMS Faulkner in the Dover Patrol. After the war, he returned to The London Hospital and qualified in 1920.

Following a series of house appointments, he became first assistant to Lord Dawson of Penn (1864–1945) and then was appointed Assistant Physician to The London Hospital in 1927. He completed his MD degree in 1922 and FRCP in 1929.

Hunter became curator to the Medical School Museum in 1933, and during his 30 years in office collected specimens said to ‘represent almost all that is worth having in morbid anatomy’. He later became Director of the Medical Research Council’s Department for Research in Industrial Medicine at The London Hospital. In 1925 he married Mathilda Bugnion, daughter of a Lutheran Pastor from Lausanne, Switzerland. They had four children, two of whom became doctors.

In 1935 he gave a series of lectures to the Derby Medical Society on occupational diseases. These lectures were followed by other publications, often jointly with colleagues. These all culminated in his 1955 book The Diseases of Occupations which became a classic "as soon as it was published". It was said that he wrote all 1000 pages by getting up at 5 a.m. for 18 months. It has been criticized as "perhaps lacking in balance" and being "sometimes irrelevant" but "always entertaining and gaining immeasurably from its readability and its impact on the medical profession."

There followed a Penguin Book Health in Industry published in 1959. Hunter was founder Editor of the British Journal of Industrial Medicine.

MemorialsEdit

Hunter's memory is preserved not only by his book but also by a Donald Hunter Room at the Royal College of Physicians. There is also a Donald Hunter House in London which provides accommodation for students.

SourcesEdit

Donald Hunter CBE MD FRCP, Geoffrey O Storey. Journal of Medical Biography, Vol.15, No.3, pp. 153–157