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Biographical entry Bradlaw, Robert Vivian (1905 - 1992)

Kt 1965; CBE 1950; MRCS 1928; FRCS 1949; LDSRCS 1926; FRCS Edinburgh; FRCSI; FRCPS Glasgow; DCL Newcastle 1965; LRCP 1928.

14 April 1905
9 February 1992
Dental surgeon


Robert Bradlaw was born on 14 April 1905 in Dublin into a large family with medical and dental connections, the son of Philip Bradlaw, who died when Robert was a child. He was educated at Cranleigh and at Guy's Hospital both as a dental and medical student. After qualifying and a spell in private practice and as a ship's surgeon he held some part time academic appointments at the Royal Dental Hospital and at the National Hospital, Queen's Square. In 1936 he was appointed to the chair of dental surgery at the Dental School of Newcastle upon Tyne, which at that time was located within the University of Durham. In 1960 he became Dean and Director of Studies at the Institute of Dental Surgery, Director of the Eastman Dental Hospital and Professor of Oral Medicine at the University of London, posts which he held until his retirement.

In Newcastle he revolutionised the dental undergraduate curriculum. He was a member of the Dental Board of the United Kingdom (GMC) and the Government's Interdepartmental Committee on Dentistry, which made recommendations for dentistry and its rĂ´le in the new National Health Service. In 1947 he was involved with Webb-Johnson, Wilfred Fish and Kelsey Fry in the activity which led to the establishment of the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the College, becoming its first Dean. He was Hunterian Professor in 1955, and received the Colyer gold medal in the same year and the Honorary gold medal of the College in 1972. He was awarded the CBE in 1950, and was knighted in 1965. He was President of the General Dental Council from 1964 to 1974 and President of the British Dental Association in 1974. He received many international honours, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in 1975.

He was a skilled lecturer, and a widely read man with diverse interests including culinary art, 18th century paintings, Chinese and Korean celadon ware, pottery and cultivating orchids. A convivial and considerate host, he was known for his sense of humour. A former colleague recounted how 'he arrived for a meeting at Senate House on the morning his knighthood was announced and, with much glee, told us how in his carriage on the train up to London one avid reader of The Times lifted his head to say to his neighbour "look at the people they give knighthoods to these days".

Robert Bradlaw died, unmarried, on 9 February 1992.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Br Dent J 1992 172 1293; Br Dent J 1992 173 36-7].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England