Prof. John Goodsir

1814 - 1867

Anatomist and medical scientist. Born into a medical family in Anstruther (Fife), he was educated there and at the University of St. Andrews. In 1830 he came to Edinburgh to further his training, sharing accommodation with his younger brother Harry Goodsir (1819-48) and Edward Forbes (1815-54). Goodsir studied anatomy under the infamous Robert Knox (1791 - 1862). He worked in his father's medical practice at Anstruther for a time before returning to Edinburgh working in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, where he lectured on its collections. He also served as an anatomy demonstrator in the University of Edinburgh, under Professor Alexander Monro (Tertius), whom he succeeded in the Chair of Anatomy in 1846. He greatly popularised the teaching of anatomy in Edinburgh, which had suffered under Monro, and his lectures attracted large classes.

In terms of research, Goodsir made a particular study of cells using a microscope, making valuable contributions to the understanding of cell physiology as well as anatomy. He understood that cells were composed of different structures and that they needed nutrition. He also made a study of teeth and was an enthusiastic natural historian. Goodsir was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1842.

He died at his home in Wardie and lies buried Dean Cemetery, next to his friend Prof. Edward Forbes, whose grave is marked by an identical obelisk. His brother Robert Goodsir (1823-95) was also involved in medicine and became an Arctic explorer. The family papers are held by the University of Edinburgh.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better