Royal Society of Medicine

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Not to be confused with Royal Medical Society.
The Royal Society of Medicine headquarters, 1 Wimpole Street, London, England.

The Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) is a British charitable organisation whose main purpose is as a provider of medical education, running over 350 meetings and conferences each year.


The society was originally founded on 22 May 1805 as the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London when leading members of the Medical Society of London split from the society to form a new society that would bring together branches of the medical profession "for the purpose of conversation on professional subjects, for the reception of communications and for the formation of a library". It adopted the current name of Royal Society of Medicine in 1907 when a number of independent societies, including the Epidemiological Society of London founded in 1850, whose members had included John Snow,[1] and the Pathological Society of London merged with the society under a new Royal Charter. The full list [2] of the 17 specialist societies which merged with the Royal Society of Medicine at that time was:

  • Pathological Society of London (founded 1846 - merged 1907),
  • Epidemiological Society of London (1850-1907),
  • Odontological Society of Great Britain (1856-1907),
  • Obstetrical Society of London (1858-1907),
  • Clinical Society of London (1867-1907),
  • Dermatological Society of London (1882-1907),
  • British Gynaecological Society (1884-1907),
  • Neurological Society of London (1886-1907),
  • British Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Association (1888-1907),
  • Laryngological Society of London (1893-1907),
  • Society of Anaesthetists (1893-1908),
  • Dermatological Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1894-1907),
  • British Balneological and Climatology Society (1895-1909),
  • Otological Society of the United Kingdom (1899-1907),
  • Society for the Study of Diseases in Children (1900-1908),
  • British Electrotherapeutic Society (1901-1907),
  • Therapeutical Society (1902-1907).

The Society today[edit]

The present headquarters of the RSM are in an Edwardian baroque building completed in 1912 by John Belcher at 1 Wimpole Street, London and contain one of the largest postgraduate medical libraries in Europe. The Society publishes an eponymous Journal, the JRSM. For those potentially interested in becoming a doctor and wanting to know what it entails, the society also publishes a comprehensive guide to medical school application, entitled A career in medicine. The society also owns the nearby Chandos House, designed by the 18th century architect Robert Adam, which it runs as a venue facility.

Scientists are elected to the Society following nomination and committee review. It takes members from a wide range of professions including medicine, dentistry, veterinary sciences and allied healthcare specialities. It also welcomes students members of medicine, dentistry and veterinary science to join. An elite group of physicians or scientists are elected annually to fellowship or as Honorary Fellows. Elected fellows correspond to members of the Institute of Medicine in the USA.

It is not to be confused with the older Medical Society of London (1770), Royal Medical Society (Edinburgh, 1737), Royal Society (1660) or (Worshipful) Society of Apothecaries (1617).

The Royal Society of Medicine also work in the field of Conflict and Catastrophe Medicine through their 'catastrophes & conflict forum'.[3] It is designed to raise the awareness and profile of humanitarian aid and to "facilitate and encourage research and publication of humanitarian activities".


Honorary Fellowships[edit]

The origins of the Society's Honorary Fellowship may be traced back to the first meeting in 1805 of the Medical and Chirurgical Society of London, when the following resolution was passed: 'That Gentlemen who have eminently distinguished themselves in Sciences connected with Medicine, but who are not of the Medical Profession, or do not practise therein, be admissible as Honorary Members'.[5] A further resolution elected the following inaugural Honorary Members:[5]

Later Honorary Follows have included:


Gold Medal[edit]

The Society’s Gold Medal was established in 1920 and is awarded triennially by the Council of the Society to ‘Scientists who have made valuable contributions towards the progress of the Art and Science of Medicine, Preventative Medicine or Surgery, whether by their original discoveries or by the practical application of the results of previous investigations of other scientists’. It has been presented to a number of eminent recipients including:

Edward Jenner Medal[edit]

The award was founded in 1896 by the Epidemiological Society of London (1850–1907) to commemorate the centenary of Edward Jenner’s discovery of a means of smallpox vaccination. It is awarded periodically to individuals who have undertaken distinguished work in epidemiological research.

The medal was designed in Bronze by Allan Wyon. It features Jenner’s face on one aspect and the symbol of the Epidemiological Society, the Earth, on the reverse. The medal was re-cast following the evolution of the Society into the Section of Epidemiology at the RSM in 1907. Photographs of the medal may be found in The History of the Royal Society of Medicine[1] published in 2001.

It was first awarded to Sir William Henry Power who was the then Medical Officer for London and had formulated the theory of aerial conveyance of smallpox and chaired the Royal Commission on Tuberculosis.[17]

Recipients include:

Ellison-Cliffe Medal[edit]

The The Ellison-Cliffe Medal is presented annually by the Society. The award, which commenced in 1987, is named after Dr. Percy Cliffe and his wife, Dr. Carice Ellison, who endowed the medal and the concomitant lecture which is given by the recipient to the society on a subject connected with the contribution of fundamental science to the advancement of medicine.


The Royal Society of Medicine Press is the publishing arm of the RSM. Growing rapidly in recent years it is now recognised as one of the leading medical society publishers. RSM Press publishes books, journals and online resources for health professionals in training and in practice.

Archive versions of the above two journals are available at PubMed Central. See external links section below.
The journal’s open access allows for all research articles and the editor’s column from each issue to be made available online for free, via PubMed Central. All articles are made free to access three years after publication. See external links section below.

Rebranding and One Wimpole Street[edit]

The Royal Society of Medicine's headquarters located at 1 Wimpole Street, has long hosted the society's medical training program, but in 2008 the space was rebranded to "One Wimpole Street, the Home of the Royal Society of Medicine".[31] With the aim of attracting new non-medical business to the venue, it has now become a popular choice for event organisers in London.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Penelope Hunting The History of the Royal Society of Medicine, pp. 171–172. Retrieved on 2011-06-12. ISBN 978-1-85315-497-3
  2. ^ "Archive Summary". Royal Society of Medicine. Retrieved 2012-10-23. 
  3. ^ "Catastrophes and Conflict Medicine". Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Royal Society of Medicine appoints new President" Royal Society of Medicine Media Releases
  5. ^ a b K Newton, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Volume 84, April 1991, page 245
  6. ^ It is not certain whether 'Aikin' is Charles Rochemont Aikin, Arthur Aikin, or John Aikin, author of 'Biographical memoirs of medicine in Great Britain'.
  7. ^ "Who Was Who". Oxford Index. Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "Biographical entry Trotter, Wilfred Batten Lewis (1872 - 1939)". Royal College of Sugeons. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  10. ^ "Announcements". Nature. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Moore, George. The Creators. 
  12. ^ Yount, Lisa. A to Z of Biologists. p. 2. 
  13. ^ "Robert Arthur (Sir) Young". Royal College of Physicians. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "Sir Hans Adolf Krebs". Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "Sir Richard Doll CH OBE". Royal Sciety. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "Gold Medal for Lord Walton of Detchant". Newcastle University. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  17. ^ History of the section of Epidemiology & Public Health
  18. ^ Alphonse Laveran, M. D. 1845–1922,
  19. ^ "Presentation of the Jenner Medal". Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 5 (Sect Epidemiol State Med): 149. 1912. PMC 2005375. PMID 19976307. 
  20. ^ AIM25 text-only browsing: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: MANSON, Sir Patrick (1844–1922). Retrieved on 2011-06-12.
  21. ^ a b "Presentation of Jenner Medal". Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine 55 (10): 850. 1962. PMC 1896896. PMID 19994185. 
  22. ^ M.G. Obituary. Thomas Henry Craig Stevenson. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Vol. 96, No. 1 (1933), pp. 151–156
  23. ^ "Announcements". Nature 142 (3589): 287. 1938. doi:10.1038/142287b0. 
  24. ^ "News from the field". American Journal of Public Health 28 (10): 1260. October 1938. doi:10.2105/AJPH.28.10.1260. 
  25. ^ Dunn PM (May 2008). "Dr Leonard Colebrook, FRS (1883–1967) and the chemotherapeutic conquest of puerperal infection". Arch. Dis. Child. Fetal Neonatal Ed. 93 (3): F246–8. doi:10.1136/adc.2006.104448. PMID 18426926. 
  26. ^ "Association News". International Journal of Epidemiology 8 (3): 293. 1979. doi:10.1093/ije/8.3.293. 
  27. ^ Oakley CL (1971). "Leonard Colebrook. 1883–1967". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 17: 91–138. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1971.0004. PMID 11615432. 
  28. ^ Editorial Board (2007). "20th Death-day of a Prominent Czech Epidemiologist Karel Raška, MD, DrSc". Cent Eur J Public Health 15 (3): 127. 
  29. ^ [1][dead link]
  30. ^ Galbraith, N. S. (1991). "Quarterly Communicable Disease Review January to March 1991: From the PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre". Journal of Public Health 13 (3): 219. 
  31. ^ One Wimpole Street, UK.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′58″N 0°08′50″W / 51.5161°N 0.1471°W / 51.5161; -0.1471