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Biographical entry Sissons, Hubert Armand (1920 - 2008)

MB BS Melbourne 1944; FRCPath 1963; MD 1970; MRCP 1970; FRCS 1972; FRCP 1975.

24 November 1920
13 September 2008


Hubert Armand Sissons was chairman of the department of pathology at the Hospital for Joint Diseases and the Orthopedic Institute, New York. He was born in Melbourne, Australia, the son of Alfred Thomas Stanley Sissons, dean of the Victorian College of Pharmacy, Melbourne, and Jessie Taylor Sissons née Tope. He was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne, and then gained a government senior scholarship to study medicine at the University of Melbourne. He qualified MB BS in 1944.

He became an assistant pathologist and then acting pathologist at the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, and worked closely with Rupert Willis, who encouraged Sissons to investigate bone pathology. Whilst at the Alfred, Sissons co-authored an influential article, published in the Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, the first paper to describe Mycobacterium ulcerans infection, now known as a disease of worldwide importance ('A new mycobacterial infection of man', J Pathol Bacteriol. 1948 Jan;60[1]:93-122).

In 1946 Sissons went to the UK as a Prophit research scholar, to work with Willis, who had become the Sir William Collins professor in human and comparative pathology at the Royal College of Surgeons. Sissons' task was to make a histological assessment of every tumour added to the pathological department of the museum.

In 1949 Sissons was appointed head of the newly-established department of morbid anatomy at the University of London's Postgraduate Medical Federation's Institute of Orthopaedics at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. He remained at the institute for 30 years, becoming professor of morbid anatomy in 1972.

From 1951 to 1952 Sissons studied with Hermann Lisco at Northwestern University in Chicago, USA. He also visited Henry L Jaffe in New York, then one of the leading bone pathologists in the United States. Over the following years he made frequent trips to the USA, and eventually succeeded Jaffe as chairman of the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Hospital for Joint Diseases and the Orthopedic Institute. In New York he helped establish the New York Bone Club, where researchers could meet to discuss and exchange ideas. Sissons returned to the UK in 1990 and finished his career at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories.

He wrote 68 papers in refereed journals. He was co-author, with F Schajowicz and L V Ackerman, of the World Health Organization's (WHO) standard reference publication Histological typing of bone tumours (Geneva, WHO, 1972) and co-author (with Ronald O Murray and H B S Kemp) of the leading textbook of bone diseases, Orthopaedic diagnosis: clinical, radiological and pathological coordinates (Berlin, NY, Springer-Verlag, 1984).

Sissons was president of the Association of Clinical Pathologists and the World Association of Societies of Pathology. He was a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians, and was a foundation fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists.

In 1945 Sissons married Patricia Mary née Lovett, a nurse. They had a son, John, and a daughter, Mary. Hubert Armand Sissons died on 13 September 2008, aged 87. Predeceased by his wife and son, he was survived by his daughter.

Sarah Gillam

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Royal College of Physicians Lives of the Fellows Hubert Armand Sissons - accessed 7 May 2015].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England