Edward Alfred Cockayne

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Edward Alfred Cockayne (1880 Sheffield – 1956) was an English physician specializing in pediatrics. He spent most of his medical career at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London.

Cockayne was particularly interested in endocrinology, and rare, genetic diseases of children. In 1946 he recognized a disease that would be named after him, called Cockayne's syndrome. This is a rare multisystem disorder characterized by dwarfism, pigmentary retinopathy, impaired nervous system development, and facial abnormalities. This disease has since been divided into three subtypes:

  • Cockayne syndrome I, or Classic Cockayne Syndrome: in which facial and somatic abnormalities develop during childhood. Due to progressive neurological degeneration, death occurs in the second or third decade.
  • Cockayne syndrome II, or Severe Cockayne Syndrome: in which facial and somatic abnormalities are present at birth. Death usually results by the age of seven.
  • Cockayne syndrome III: milder than Cockayne I & II, and its onset happens later than the other two types.

In 1933 he published the "Inherited Abnormalities of the Skin and its Appendages". This was the first book that dealt exclusively with genodermatoses (inherited skin disorders).

Besides his medical work, Cockayne was an entomologist. He amassed a large collection of butterflies and moths, which in 1947 was donated to the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum at Tring, Hertfordshire. In 1943 he became president of the Royal Entomological Society of London.

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