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Biographical entry Murnaghan, Gerald Francis (1926 - 1999)

MRCS and FRCS 1956; MB ChB Edinburgh 1948; ChM 1960; MD 1961; FRCS Edinburgh 1954; FRACS 1963.

20 September 1926
St Helen's, Lancashire
19 June 1999
Urological surgeon


Gerald Francis 'Joe' Murnaghan, Professor of Surgery at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, can be said to have been the father of upper tract urodynamics, although his work and influence extended far beyond this important area. He was born on 20 September at St Helen's, Lancashire, the son of William and Anne Murnaghan. He was educated at St Helen's Catholic Grammar School and the University of Edinburgh. There he won the Senior John Aitken Carlyle bursary in anatomy and physiology, the Lawson Gifford prize in obstetrics and gynaecology, and distinctions in all parts of his final examinations. After junior posts on the professorial medical and surgical units, he did his National Service in the RAMC as a clinical officer in surgery, serving in the Canal Zone.

On demobilisation in 1955, he returned to Edinburgh with the Vans Dunlop research scholarship in surgery and pathology at the University of Edinburgh and a Scottish hospital endowment research trust fellowship. Here he began a series of investigations into the anatomy and physiology of the ureter, which were to continue throughout his life. He was subsequently surgical registrar and senior registrar to David Band in Edinburgh, where he completed his training in urology.

In 1957, he went as a senior lecturer to the Institute of Urology in London, where he worked with Roger Pugh. His Hunterian Professorship in 1958 advanced an entirely new theory of the causation of hydronephrosis. This led on to a study of the structure and function of the ureterovesical orifice and the pathogenesis of reflux.

In 1961, he was invited to be Associate Professor of Surgery in the new clinical school at the Prince Henry Hospital at the University of South Wales. There he set up an internationally famous centre for the study of urodynamics, with one of the first primate colonies in the world devoted to urological science. In 1969, he was appointed full Professor of Surgery, a post he retained until 1992. Latterly, he became interested in lower urinary tract infection, especially urethritis in women and prostatitis in men.

Joe was a popular visiting professor in urological departments all over the world. He was a member of the exclusive American Association of Genito-Urinary Surgeons, on the editorial board of the British Journal of Urology and Urology Digest. He was honoured by the British Association of Urological Surgeons with the St Peter's medal in 1984, was President of the Urological Society of Australasia in 1980 and a member of the New South Wales State Cancer Council. He was created a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to medicine in 1995.

In 1956, he married Dulcie Greenup. They had three daughters and a son, Angus. There are seven grandchildren. He died on 19 June 1999 from metastases from carcinoma of the colon. A delightful, merry companion, he was a good raconteur, an enthusiastic sailor and loved nothing better than messing about in his boat in and around Sydney harbour. He was a staunch Catholic with a keen enthusiasm for discussion in matters spiritual, ethical and moral.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Dulcie Murnaghan; BMJ 1999 319 1204, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England