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Biographical entry Gray, John Duncan (1905 - 1975)

MRCS and FRCS 1941; MB ChB Sheffield 1928.

18 November 1905
27 June 1975
ENT surgeon and General practitioner


John Duncan Gray was born of Scots parents on 18 November 1905 and educated at Chesterfield Grammar School and Sheffield University, where he graduated in medicine in 1928. After house appointments at Sheffield Royal Infirmary he was resident medical officer at the General Hospital, Jersey, until 1932. Further posts were at Huddersfield as senior ophthalmic house surgeon at Sheffield Royal Infirmary, and as deputy director of Sheffield Radium Centre. In 1934 he married and with his wife was in general practice at Sheffield for two years. In 1937 he became an assistant in the ENT department at Sheffield Royal Hospital and in 1941 took the FRCS. That year he entered the RAMC and served first as otologist at Shrewsbury with rank of Major. He took his watchmaker's lathe with him, for he made many of his own surgical instruments. Later he did good work as an otologist at Lagos and Accra, where at times he was in command of the surgical division of the hospital. He was also in charge of a workshop for making artificial limbs for West Africans. For these services he was mentioned in dispatches. He returned to England and was then posted to Poona, where he remained until the end of the war.

After demobilization he was appointed in 1946 honorary consultant at Sheffield Royal Hospital and later also became ENT surgeon to Bakewell Cottage Hospital. On the inauguration of the National Health Service he became part-time consultant ENT surgeon to Sheffield Royal Hospital and lecturer in diseases of the ear, nose and throat to Sheffield University.

He produced many devices to assist his surgery, showing remarkable versatility. The success of his film of intra-aural surgery earned him the 1959 Norman Gamble Prize of the Royal Society of Medicine. He produced a silent suction pump, a mechanical chisel for minor surgery in the ear, and a microdrill, both electric and air powered, for the same purpose. Among other things he constructed a simple impedance audiometer and an averaging computer for EEG audiometry. He made a deep study of the pathology and treatment of chronic otitis media and at the time of his death was engaged in research on the transformation of sound vibrations into impulses transmissible to the brain.

The last four years of John Gray's life as a consultant were years of great strain. Three severe abdominal operations sapped his stamina and tested his stoical endurance.

He was married and had two sons and two daughters. He died on 27 June 1975.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1975, 3, 709].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England