Venereological education among medical undergraduates in England, 1890-1914

Anne Hanley
(New College, University of Oxford)

In 1867 James Lane and George Gascoyen, surgeons to the London Lock Hospital, compiled a report on their experiments with a new and controversial treatment. The procedure, known as ‘syphilisation’, saw patients be inoculated with infective matter taken from a primary syphilitic ulcer or the artificial sores produced in another patient. Each patient received between 102 and 468 inoculations in order to determine whether syphilisation could cure syphilis and produce immunity against reinfection. This paper examines the theory and practice of this experimental treatment. Although conducted against the backdrop of the Contagious Diseases Acts, the English syphilisation experiments have been largely forgotten by historians. Yet they constitute an important case study of how clinicians thought about the etiology and pathology of syphilis, as well as their responsibilities to their patients, at a crucial moment before the advent of the bacteriological revolution.

Wednesday, 14th October 2015, 12.45 pm – 2.00 pm
Venue: LG9, Keppel Street Building


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