the British Society for the History of Radiology


John Blair was a surgeon who worked at Perth Royal Infirmary and as a medical historian worked at St Andrews and Dundee Universities. In 1994, he was the President for the Scottish Society for the History of Medicine and the British Society for the History of Medicine. He had a commitment and interest in promoting the study and research into the history of medicine.

The Congress for the International Society for the History of Medicine was held in Glasgow in 1994. The success of the Congress made it possible to establish a Trust Fund in 1995 to provide financial assistance to undergraduates with their history of medicine research topics. Today the Trust can award grants of up to £150 per student.

If you are interested in presenting a paper/poster at the next BSHM Congress in Edinburgh, September 2017, or entering for a prize given by the History of Medicine Society at the Royal Society of Medicine or to the Hunterian Society apply to us for the application form.

Sue Weir

Chairman to the John Blair Trust


100 Years of Medical Radiology, Adrian Thomas

The Story of Radiology, ESR     Pt1 Pt2

X-Rays in Medicine - the First Century

Early American radiology: the pioneer years, D J DiSantis AJR, 147, 1986

Preserving, celebrating radiology’s revolutionary road RSNA News


An Interventional Radiology Odyssey: The Story of my Life and Work
by Josef Rosch

Springer  2016 pp103

Reviewed by Dr Arpan K Banerjee  Chair  Brit  Soc  Hist  Radiology

Autobiographies written by radiologists are few and far between. Few radiologists have chronicled their  own life stories. It is therefore  a great pleasure to find this new  radiology autobiography written by a true giant of interventional radiology. Josef Rosch who was born in 1925 in Czechoslovakia  has chronicled his amazing life story in this slim volume. It is  a  delight to read and is  likely to inspire the next generation of interventional radiologists. Rosch  was inspired to do radiology by his inspirational radiology teaching during  medical  student  days having initially intended to be a physician.

Between 1954 and 1967 he carried out research on angiography in Prague. In  1967 he moved to Oregon on a research fellowship to work with Charles Dotter, the angiography pioneer. The pioneering  work on gastrointestinal  bleed embolization, thrombolysis, pharmacoangiograhy and TIPS( transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt)  and expandable metallic stents carried out there  is described. Rosch chronicles his friendship with Judkins, Dotter and Bill Cook (owner and President of Cook Medical)  amongst many other friendships.

He mentored  generations  of future leaders in their fields. The founding of the Dotter Interventional Institute in 1990 is described along with his subsequent new fellows and research which continued well  into his retirement years.

Rosch has had a brilliant career in this new field and can lay claim to be one of the true pioneers of this subject. His phenomenal industry , prolific research output and work ethic come through in this slim volume. All who read it will be inspired by his remarkable story and  his outstanding contribution to the new field of medicine.                                                          


History Sessions, International  Congress  of Radiology, Buenos Aires, Argentina  24 September 2016

The Sheraton Hotel and Conference Centre, Buenos Aires Argentina was the venue for the 29th International Congress of Radiology (21-24 Sept 2016) organised by the International Society of Radiology  a society founded in 1925  for the promotion of radiology knowledge and teaching worldwide. Over one hundred invited speakers from 24 countries delivered invited talks in addition to proffered papers and posters and an exhibition which was attended by several thousand delegates.

Buenos Aires , often considered the ‘Paris’ of Latin America was a wonderful  venue for an international conference. The city with its magnificent  boulevards (avenue Julio 9 is one of the widest boulevards in the world), beautiful parks, statues,  a mixture of architecture  old including the Casa Rosada (with European influences) and new  skyscrapers,  museums,  bookshops galore  , shopping galleries and a famous opera house  ‘The Teatro Colon’ as well as traditional tango houses  and a recently developed dockland area provide the visitor with much to explore.

A wide range of radiology topics were covered during the conference including  a session  on the history of radiology organised with the International Society  for the History of Radiology (ISHRAD).

Read Arpan Banerjee’s report here





Registration for the BSHM Edinburgh Congress, 13 -16  September is now open at:

Book now to take advantage of the early bird rates. BSHM members and members of BSHM affiliated societies enjoy a further discount - if they   book now the 3 day delegate rate for the Conference is only £180.

Keynote speakers will include Philippa Langley , who led the successful search for the remains of Richard III, and the Guthrie lecture will be delivered by Professor David Watters from Melbourne. The Congress is being held in association with the   Society for the Social History of Medicine whose sponsored keynote speaker is Professor Malcolm Nicolson.

Please note that abstract submission is also open via  and will close on 31 May.

The congress has approval for up to 20 hours of CPD.

Dr Martyn Thomas

Secretary BSHM


BSHR has recently joined the Oral History Society as a group member. It gives us access to their Journal and services. Take a look at their website for details.

If you wish to look at the Journal you will need our group username and password. Members can obtain these from the Secretary. Email


Louis Harold Gray: a founding  father of radiobiology  by S Wynchank.

Springer 2017 pages 137

Reviewed by Dr Arpan K Banerjee  Past Chairman British Society for the History of Radiology.

This slim volume is  a publication from the Springer Biography series. The last contribution in the series I read was the superb  autobiography of Rosch the interventional radiology pioneer.

This biography is of Louis Harold  Gray  the British physicist and  a giant in the field of radiobiology which is the basis of modern radiotherapy. Hal  Gray as he was known was born in London  in 1905 an only child educated at Christ’s Hospital and subsequently  the physics department at Cambridge University where he was taught by Rutherford. He was a brilliant student and continued to do a PHD at the Cavendish labs under the supervision of  Chadwick  discoverer  of the neutron and a Nobel Laureate. Gray was interested in nuclear physics and was interested in how ionising radiation could treat tumours. He moved to Mount Vernon Hospital to pursue his interests as hospital physicist. He used a neutron generator to measure ionising effects on tissues. After the War he moved to the MRC Radiotherapy research unit at the Hammersmith Hospital where his team did much pioneering work.

In 1949 he became President of the British Institute of Radiology. Sadly, after differences with his boss  at he MRC unit he had to leave the Hammersmith Hospital in 1953 and returned to Mount Vernon where he built a superb  world famous radiobiology unit. He did much travelling in the late 1950’s when he was at the height of his fame. Gray was elected Fellow of the Royal Society. Gray’s stroke is described and he sadly passed away in 1965 aged only 59. In 1975 he was honoured by having  the absorbed dose of radiation named after him.

This well researched  biography  is a delight to read and tells the story of a remarkable scientist whose contributions  laid the foundation stones for future radiotherapy.

Report of the  British Society for the History of Radiology annual  lecture on ‘Albert Einstein’


Dr Arpan K Banerjee  Past Chair Brit Soc History of Radiology

The name Albert Einstein (1879-1955) is universally associated  with the term scientific genius and as a scientist he needs little in the way of an introduction.

Born in 1879 in Germany, he did not show early signs of his genius and in 1900 completed his teaching diploma in maths and physics at the Zurich Polytechnic. He struggled to get a job and ended up working in a patent office. In 1905 he completed his  PhD thesis from Zurich University entitled  ‘A New Determination of Molecular dimensions’. That was his annus mirabilis, publishing  four  important papers each itself worthy of a Nobel Prize aged only26 years. They were on the subject of Brownian motion, photoelectric effect (important for radiology), relativity and mass energy equivalence known more popularly as E=MC2. He instantly became  famous, became a lecturer in Berne , then a Professor in Prague, returning to Zurich in 1912 as Professor of Theoretical Physics. Einstein emigrated to USA and worked in Princeton. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. Einstein was feted the world over and became  friends with people as diverse as Charles Chaplin the film-maker and the Indian writer and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

This year’s British Society for the History of Radiology’s annual lecture on 20 Feb 2017 was a theatrical  presentation entitled ‘Albert Einstein – Relativively speaking’ (pardon the pun!). It was presented by John Hinton and Jo Eagle of the Tangram Theatre Company (a company conceived by graduates of the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris, a school of physical theatre whose alumni include Stephen Berkoff and  Yasmin Reza the playright).

John Hinton delivered the presentation  in the guise of Einstein and the evening included reminiscences of Einstein’s childhood,  his mother’s love of music, his first wife and her scientific contributions, his equivalence theory set to rap, his Princeton lecture, explanation of some of his ideas with audience participation.  His description of Arthur Eddington, the British  astronomer helping prove his theory of relativity during the solar eclipse of 1919, his relationship with his second wife Elsa  and more seriously his great upset that his discoveries had led to the atom bomb – Einstein was a pacifist.

The evening was  a fascinating, unique presentation of Einstein the man interspersed with music and song and had the audience captivated in the Governor’s Hall  at St Thomas’s Hospital, London on the 20th of February.

All who attended were enthralled and enlightened by the unique performance re-telling the story of Einstein,  a man universally acknowledged as the brightest scientific star in the human intellectual firmament.

First published in Rad Magazine  April 12 2017 p11

John Hinton as Einstein and Jo Eagle as Elsa

Image courtesy of Hannah Houston