Notes from Lectures of Arthur Gamgee

Scope and Content

Three volumes of notes from physiology lectures given by Gamgee, with the first volume originating from lectures he gave whilst in Edinburgh, and the second two covering a single course of lectures he gave at Owens College, Manchester.

Administrative / Biographical History

Arthur Gamgee was born on 10 October 1841 and was the youngest child of well-known veterinary surgeon Joseph Gamgee (1801-1894) and his wife Mary Ann West. Two of his elder brothers also had distinguished careers; Joseph Sampson Gamgee (1828-1886) was a surgeon to the Queen's Hospital, Birmingham and John Gamgee (1831-1894) was a veterinary surgeon and inventor. The family returned to England when Arthur was 14 where he entered University College London, before proceeding to Edinburgh to pursue his medical studies. He was awarded his MD there in 1862 and received a gold medal for his thesis 'An Inquiry into the Physiology and Pathology of Foetal Nutrition', after which he was appointed house physician to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Up until 1869 he also assisted Douglas Maclagan, the professor of medical jurisprudence, in addition to serving as physician to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and lecturing on physiology at Surgeons' Hall. He became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1871 and a Fellow the following year in addition to becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Gamgee was particularly interested in pursuing research and began publishing various papers in the late 1860s, with a focus on physiological chemistry and the pharmacological action of chemical bodies. He worked closely with W. Kühne, professor of physiology at Heidelberg, and also Carl Ludwig at Leipzig. A significant grant made by Miss Hannah Brackenbury towards the establishment of a medical department at Owens College, Manchester allowed for the creation of the Brackenbury Chair of Physiology and Histology, and it was to this position that Gamgee was appointed in 1873. Prior to the creation of this position there had been little formal teaching of physiology in the area and Gamgee set out to establish Owens College as a centre for research in physiology. Gamgee also serves as president f the biological section of the British Association in 1882, and Fullerian professor of physiology at the Royal Institution, London from 1882 to 1885. Shortly after he was admitted a member of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1885, becoming a fellow in 1896.

Gamgee resigned his Chair in Manchester in 1885 and served as physician to the Manchester Consumption Hospital for a short time before being appointed assistant physician to St George's Hospital, London in 1887. Whilst in London he lectured in pharmacology and materia medica but resigned all his appointments in 1889 and instead went to Cambridge to pursue his research for a year. He then moved again, this time to Switzerland, where he worked as a consulting physician whilst also undertaking his own research. He visited the USA in 1902 and again in 1903 in order to inspect a number of physiological laboratories where work was focused on the study of nutrition in health and disease.

In 1902 Gamgee delivered the Croonian lecture at the Royal Society entitled 'Certain chemical and physical properties of haemaglobin'. This topic was of particular interest to Gamgee and development of knowledge in this area at this time can be largely credited to him. He published a number of papers throughout his career and in 1880 published the first volume of A Textbook of the Physiological Chemistry of the Animal Body.

He was made emeritus professor at Manchester in 1889 and was awarded an honorary DSc from the University of Manchester in 1908. Gamgee died from pneumonia in Paris on 29 March 1909.

Bibliography

G.H. Brown, 'Arthur Gamgee' Munk's Roll Volume IV p.387. G.A.B. 'Dr Arthur Gamgee, F.R.S.' Nature 1909 80(2059) pp.194-6. D'A Power, 'Gamgee, Arthur (1841-1909)', rev. Rachel E. Davies Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press, 2004.