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William Cullen

RCPSG, Illustrations in The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow by Tom Gibson

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William Cullen

A portrait of William Cullen (1710-1790). This is a copy made in 1869 of an original work by W Cochrane which is held by the University of Glasgow's Hunterian Museum.

Cullen was a famous physician and chemist who began his medical career in Glasgow as an apprentice surgeon. He became surgeon on a merchant ship sailing from London and spent two years in Jamaica. He returned to Scotland to study medicine in Edinburgh and began to practice in Lanarkshire in the 1730s.

In 1744, four years after graduating MD from the University of Glasgow, Cullen entered the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. He delivered several independent lectures on medicine in the city before being employed by the University in 1747 to teach chemistry. In 1751 he was appointed Professor of Medicine. His lectures were considered unorthodox as he spoke from notes instead of a script and used English rather than the more conventional Latin. He left Glasgow in 1756 to become Professor of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh.

Joseph Black (1728-1799) was a pupil of Cullen's at Glasgow, and the older man's research in the evolution of heat are believed to have laid the foundations for some of Black's subsequent scientific discoveries.

Reference: RCPSG 1/12/7/35

Reproduced with the permission of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

chemistry, chemists, Hunterian Museum, latent heat, Medicine, physicians, portraits, Professors, ship's surgeons, University of Glasgow

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