Richard Charles Alexander (1884-1968)
Professor of Surgery
Richard Charles Alexander, a native of Edinburgh, was educated at George
Watson’s College, and at the University of Edinburgh, where he initially matriculated as a
student of Arts, graduating MA in 1904. By then he had already begun his medical studies,
and in 1908 he obtained his medical degree with honours. A period of study in Paris followed,
before he returned to Edinburgh to take up the exacting rounds of the young surgeon in training.
In 1911 he obtained the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, rising to become
a tutor in clinical surgery, and an interim assistant surgeon. He served in the Royal Army Medical
Corps between 1916 and 1919, an experience that was, inevitably, a tough lesson in practical surgery.
Alexander returned to work in Edinburgh, and in 1921 was appointed visiting surgeon at
Dundee Royal Infirmary and lecturer in clinical surgery at the University of St Andrews. He
became known as a first-rate teacher, with a remarkable memory, and in 1935 was promoted by
the University Court to be Professor of Surgery in succession to Professor John Anderson. He
also held posts of consulting surgeon to Perth Royal Infirmary and the Memorial Cottage Hospital,
During World War II, Alexander, in addition to his academic duties, served as Surgical Director
of the Emergency Medical Service in the Eastern Region of Scotland. In recognition of this work
he was awarded the C.B.E. in 1944. With the institution of the National Health Service in 1948, he
continued his close relations with the practice of surgery in the hospitals of the Eastern Region,
and was a member of the Board of Management of the Dundee General Hospitals.
He retired in 1951, but kept an interest in clinical affairs and was a very well known and active
figure in the city until his death in 1968.
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