Alexander Monro

Alexander Monro / Science

  • Name  : Hardie
  • Born  : 1697
  • Died  : 1767
  • Category  : Science
  • Finest Moment : Founding a teaching hospital in Edinburgh, in 1729

Set up the first teaching hospital in Edinburgh, and was also the first of three Alexanders!

Born 8 September 1697 in London, the son of John Monro, an Edinburgh surgeon, Alexander was the first of three of that name who held the chair of anatomy at Edinburgh for 126 years. To differentiate the three, they became known as primus, secundus and tertius. Alexander primus received his M.D. degree in Edinburgh, as his father had moved back there. He was appointed Professor of Anatomy in 1720, and soon became known as a lecturer who not only did not use notes, but lectured in English, rather than Latin. This latter fact boosted his popularity no end!

His book, The Anatomy of Human Bones (1726), was published in several editions. Starting a hospital in 1729, off the Cowgate in Edinburgh, he promoted the idea of treating the poor for free, and provided his services as a doctor there for free. It was the forerunner of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, started in 1736, and was the start of Edinburgh's reputation as a centre for medical teaching.

In 1758 he handed over teaching duties to Alexander secundus, and six years later published An Account of the Inoculation of Small-Pox in Scotland, raising the standard of medical research and publication. He died in Edinburgh, on 10 July, 1767.

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