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Biographical entry Christopherson, John Brian (1868 - 1955)

CBE 1920; M.R.C.S. 12 March 1896; FRCS 9 December 1897; LRCP 1896; MRCP 1905; FRCP 1913; MB BCh Cambridge 1893; MD 1898; Order of the Nile; Order of St Sava, Serbia.

30 April 1868
Batley, Yorkshire
21 July 1955
Lydney-on-Severn, Gloucestershire
General surgeon, Physician and Tropical medicine specialist


Born on 30 April 1868 at Batley, Yorkshire, son of Canon Brian Christopherson, later Rector of Falmouth, Christopherson was educated at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Grammar School, Clifton College, Caius College, Cambridge and St Bartholomew's Hospital. After qualifying in 1893 he continued his studies at Vienna. In 1896 he was elected assistant surgeon to the Albert Dock Hospital, but his work there was interrupted by the outbreak of the South African War. He became surgeon to the Imperial Yeomanry base hospital at Deelfontein, and at the end of the war he joined the newly formed Sudan Medical Service as physician to the Inspector- General of the Sudan, Slatin Pasha. In 1904 Christopherson became the first Director-General of medical services to the Sudan Government. Five years later he resigned these appointments to become director of civil hospitals at Khartoum and Omdurman.

The outbreak of the first world war once more interrupted his career and he accompanied Sir James and Lady Berry's Red Cross Unit to Serbia and acted as surgeon to the temporary hospital at Vrynatchka Banja. When taken prisoner by the Austro-Hungarian forces he was rescued by his friend Slatin, an Austrian, who arranged for Christopherson's release. Then he went to France as secretary of the War Office Commission on Medical Establishments with the BEF. He returned to Khartoum in 1917.

Christopherson investigated many of the tropical diseases common in the Sudan. In 1917 he successfully treated several patients with kala-azar, who were also infected with schistosomiasis, by intravenous injections of antimony. On returning to England, Christopherson was for a time in charge of the special bilharzia clinic of the Ministry of Pensions. He was an examiner in tropical diseases to the Royal College of Physicians and to the University of London.

He was physician for tropical diseases to the Royal Masonic Hospital, and in 1929 was elected President of the Tropical Diseases Section of the Royal Society of Medicine, but he became more interested in pulmonary diseases and joined the staff of the London Chest Hospital, Victoria Park.

Christopherson married in 1912 Joyce Eleanor, daughter of Dr Joseph Arderne Ormerod, Physician to St Bartholomew's Hospital. He was a deeply religious man and for many years was medical adviser to the University Mission to Central Africa. He retired to his country home, Heaven's Gate, Lydney-on-Severn, Gloucestershire, where he died on 21 July 1955, aged 87.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 23 July 1955 p 8 g, 28 July p 11 f, and 30 July p 9 a with appreciation by N R Udal; Brit med J 1955, 2, 327 with eulogy by Sir Philip Manson-Bahr; Lancet 1955, 2, 255 with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England