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Biographical entry Hughes, Ernest Brodie Cobbett (1913 - 1989)

MRCS 1937; FRCS 1939; MB BS London 1937; ChM Birmingham 1949; LRCP 1937.

21 September 1913
Broadstairs, Kent
23 March 1989


Brodie Hughes was born in Broadstairs, Kent, on 21 September 1913, the son of E T C Hughes, MRCS, assistant medical superintendent of Lewisham Infirmary. He was educated at Eastbourne College and University College, London, before going to University College Hospital for clinical studies. He qualified in 1937 and during his early resident appointments came under the influence of Wilfred Trotter FRS and Julian Taylor, both of whom inspired an interest in the surgical approach to pain and disorders of the central nervous system. He passed the FRCS in 1939 and started training in neurosurgery at the National Hospital, Queen Square, under Harvey Jackson and Julian Taylor. After the outbreak of war he moved with them to the Emergency Medical Service neurosurgical unit at Hayward's Heath and remained there until 1945 when he transferred to Birmingham to take over the neurosurgical unit previously staffed by the American Hospital in Britain. In 1947 he was appointed neurosurgeon to the Birmingham United Hospitals and in the following year at the age of 35 years was appointed to the Chair of Neurosurgery at Birmingham University. During his 30 years as Professor he travelled widely, often for the British Council, lecturing at overseas universities, and wrote extensively particularly on perimetry and visual fields. He was joint author of Clinical neurology published in 1953 and author of Visual fields published in 1955; many other papers were published in neurosurgical journals including an important contribution on hypothermia in neurosurgery in 1964. He was a pioneer in stereotactic surgery and devised a special apparatus to apply this technique to the treatment of Parkinson's disease until the introduction of more effective drug treatment for this condition. In addition to his professional work he was a member of many university and hospital committees as well as being Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry from 1974 to 1978. He had a reserved manner and expected high standards from his junior staff. He believed in starting work early each morning and in the importance of punctuality.

Apart from his work he had many outside interests which included playing the oboe, fly-fishing for trout and painting. In retirement he went to live at Saxmundham, Suffolk, mainly because of its proximity to the Aldeburgh Festival.

He married Frances Wendy Alexander in 1971 and there were no children of the marriage. He died on 23 March 1989, aged 75.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England