The discovery of the nature of infectious disease

From the mystery of fever to germ theory our Senior Research Fellow, Professor Ken Donaldson, discusses the discovery of infectious diseases throughout history. The mystery of ‘Fever’ The current pandemic serves to remind us that our environment teems with microbes that we can’t see, at least not with the naked eye.  Luckily very few of…

Surgical Complications

In this blog our Human Remains Conservator, Cat Irving, talks about what happens on the rare occasion an item gets left behind inside the patient after surgery. When a patient is being stitched up after surgery, one hopes that nothing has been left inside the body that shouldn’t be there. Unfortunately it happens. Usually someone…

The Discovery of Viruses

As our lives have been greatly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic it’s hard to imagine a world without viruses. But when were viruses discovered? Our Senior Research Fellow, Professor Ken Donaldson, takes us through the history of viruses. The current pandemic serves to remind us that the first discovery of viruses was only one hundred…

Ziegler Waxes: Visualising the Embryo

Our Human Remains Conservator, Cat Irving, looks at the history of Embryology and tells us more about the creator of some wax models held in our Collection. On visiting Surgeons’ Hall, people are often most struck by the ‘things in jars’ – human tissue that has been preserved to help teach and understand anatomy and…

Research in Surgeons’ Hall Museums

Our Senior Research Fellow, Ken Donaldson, gives us a little look at some of the research he has been carrying out at the Museum. I came to Surgeons’ Hall museums 7 years ago after a career in occupational lung disease research and now occupy the post of Senior Research Fellow.  The Senior Research Fellow is…

A Human History of Coronaviruses

In this time of a global pandemic it is worth considering the discovery of the coronaviruses that infect humans. Our Senior Research Fellow, Professor Ken Donaldson, takes a look at the history of the coronavirus. The coronavirus family All living creatures, even bacteria, are infected by viruses, with two hundred and nineteen species of virus…

Forensic Medicine: The Case of Dr Pritchard

In this latest post about early forensic cases our Curator, Louise Wilkie, looks at E.W Pritchard’s famous Murder Trial. Often referred to as “the human crocodile”  Dr Pritchard was found guilty of poisoning his wife and mother-in-law in Glasgow in 1865.   Poison was the murder weapon of choice in 19th century Scotland. Often seen as…

Fake Smiles

In this blog our Human Remains Conservator, Cat Irving, delves into the history of dentures.  In the twenty-first century we are awash with options to make our teeth look better. They can be whitened, straightened, crowned and veneered, and there are a range of options for replacing missing teeth, whether these be devices worn over…

Lung Inflammation: Too Much of a Good Thing.

In this post our Senior Research Fellow, Ken Donaldson, discusses inflammation of the lungs. Professor Donaldson was previously a Principal Investigator in the University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research. Of all pathological processes, inflammation is the one with which the woman- or man-in-the-street is most familiar. We recognise it from its distinctive signs and…

A Curators Tale of Isolation

Our Curator, Louise Wilkie, discusses how her role has changed since the museum closed its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A major part of a Curator’s role is looking after the collections, we call this Collection Management and it involves everything from cataloguing objects, packing objects for storage, checking conditions, measurements, locations and research….

Fever: Should We Learn To Love It?

Our Senior Research Fellow, Professor Ken Donaldson, talks about what happens to our bodies when we get a fever. The symptoms that we get when we contract a respiratory infection like cold, flu or Covid-19 are often unpleasant but they are not an accident, they are the logical outcome of millions of years of evolution….

A Study in Scarlet: Where Fact Meets Fiction

Our Curator shares some of her research into the developments of 19th Century forensic medicine and the influence the Edinburgh medical scene had on author Arthur Conon Doyle and his famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. When we are first introduced to Sherlock Holmes in ‘A Study in Scarlet’ an astonished Dr Watson learns Sherlock has been…