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Biographical entry Fergusson, John Douglas (1909 - 1979)

MRCS 1934; FRCS 1936; BA Cambridge 1931; MB BCh 1934; MA 1945; MD 1946; LRCP 1934.

5 December 1909
Great Malvern, Worcestershire
20 April 1979
Urological surgeon


John Douglas Fergusson was born on 5 December 1909 at Great Malvern, Worcestershire, the son of John Newberry Fraser Fergusson, FRCS Edinburgh, radiologist at York County Hospital. He was educated at St Peter's School, York, and St John's College, Cambridge, where he was college prizeman and scholar. He then went to St Thomas's Hospital, London, where he was awarded an open university scholarship, the Sutton-Sams Prize in gynaecology and the Cheselden Medal in surgery.

After house appointments at St Thomas's Hospital he became FRCS in 1936 and registrar to the surgical unit. In 1938 he was appointed to the surgical staff at the Central Middlesex Hospital where he remained until his retirement in 1974. He developed an interest in urology, starting a department at the Central Middlesex, and in 1950 he was appointed a consultant surgeon to St Peter's and St Paul's Hospital. He played a big part in uniting the staffs of these two establishments. He was appointed the first director of teaching and research when the Institute of Urology was founded in 1951, a post he retained until 1971.

Early in his career he developed a special interest in carcinoma of the prostate and he was one of the first to apply Huggins's discovery of the suppressive effect of oestrogens in that disease, and later he pioneered the technique of transsphenoidal Yttrium-90 for ablation of the pituitary in advanced disease. He was an excellent practical urologist - meticulous and unhurried - and he was held in enormous respect and affection by generations of registrars at St Paul's.

At the College he was Hunterian Professor 1945-46. A founder member of the British Association of Urological Surgeons, he was secretary from 1957 to 1960 and honorary editorial secretary three times, 1952-55, 1961-64 and 1967-69. Although he was highly critical in his assessment of papers submitted for publication, he was always kind, helpful and encouraging to the unsuccessful author - it was said that his rejection letters were almost a pleasure to receive. He was President 1970-72 and he received the St Peter's Medal in 1977.

He was editor of the British journal of urology from 1966 to 1972 and at the end of his term of office he was appointed honorary consulting editor. He was a prolific writer and editor of urological texts.

For over thirty years Fergusson was an essential part of the British urological scene which he enhanced both personally and professionally in an exceptional number of ways. By nature somewhat reserved those who knew him well appreciated the warmth of his personality and his profound concern for both his patients and his students.

He married twice. His first wife, Alice, died in 1969 after a long, distressing illness. They had two sons, both now fourth generation doctors, one in general practice and a Fellow of the College and consultant gynaecologist. His second wife, Myrtle, brought him great happiness in the last ten years of his life and made a delightful home where they entertained their many friends from abroad. With her he shared his enthusiasm for salmon fishing.

He died peacefully on 20 April 1979 after a short illness.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Daily Telegraph 23 April 1979].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England