Hugh Cairns and the origin of British neurosurgery

J Tailor, A Handa
British Journal of Neurosurgery 2007, 21 (2): 190-6
Sir Hugh Cairns, the first Nuffield Professor of Surgery in Oxford and consultant neurosurgeon to the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War II, was a leader in helping to establish neurosurgery as a speciality in Britain. After learning the craft from Dr Harvey Cushing in Boston, Cairns fought against the general surgical orthodoxy in London to establish the first specialised neurosurgical unit in a teaching hospital. We review his early life, training with Cushing, his inspiring character and administrative prowess which not only helped to win the battle for neurosurgery in London but also helped to establish the Oxford Clinical School and to save thousands of lives during the Second World War.

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