Royal Society of Medicine

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Royal Society of Medicine
Royal Society of Medicine 1 Wimpole Street.jpg
HeadquartersLondon, W1
  • United Kingdom
Official language
Roger Kirby

The Royal Society of Medicine (RSM) is one of the major providers of accredited postgraduate medical education in the United Kingdom. Each year, the RSM organises over 400 academic and public events.[1] Spanning 55 areas of special interest providing a multi-disciplinary forum for discussion and debate. The RSM is home to one of the largest medical libraries in Europe,[2] with an extensive collection of books, journals, electronic journals and online medical databases. As well as providing medical education, the Society aims to promote an exchange of information and ideas on the science, practice and organisation of medicine, both within the health professions and with responsible and informed public opinion. The Society is not a policy-making body and does not issue guidelines or standards of care.


The Society was established in 1805 as Medical and Chirurgical Society of London,[3] meeting in two rooms in barristers’ chambers at Gray's Inn and then moving to Lincoln's Inn Fields where it stayed for 25 years. In 1834 the Society moved to Berners Street and was granted a Royal Charter by King William IV.

In 1889 under the leadership of Sir John MacAlister,[4] a Building Committee chaired by Timothy Holmes supervised the move of the quarters of the Society from Berners Street to 20 Hanover Square. In 1905 an eleven-member committee headed by Sir Richard Douglas Powell organised the celebration of the Society's centenary.[5] Two years later the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London came together with seventeen specialist medical societies and, with a supplementary Royal Charter granted by Edward VII, became the Royal Society of Medicine.

In 1910 the Society acquired the site on the corner of Wimpole Street and Henrietta Place, which was opened by King George V and Queen Mary in May 1912.


The Council[6] is the governing body of the Society and Council members are the Society's Trustees. A permanent team of Directors[7] and their staff support the work of Council. There are two Standing Committees. The Audit Committee reports directly to Council and is responsible for audit and risk management. The remit of the Academic Board is to provide academic initiatives and to consider changes and improvements to the organisation of meeting programmes for the Sections and the Society. The Dean is responsible for Continuing Professional Development, Society Conferences, and the accreditation of Section meetings and e-learning programmes. The RSM Council meets throughout the year. Only RSM members and fellows can access the Minutes of RSM Council meetings.


Recent presidents of the society have been:

Previous presidents of note of the former Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London were:


The Royal Society of Medicine headquarters, 1 Wimpole Street, London, England.

Fellowship of the RSM[8] is open to those who hold a UK recognised medical, dental or veterinary qualification, or a higher scientific qualification in a healthcare related field. Associate membership is open to those who do not qualify for Fellowship but who work within the healthcare sector or have an interest in healthcare issues. The Society also welcomes student members of medicine, dentistry and veterinary science as members plus other healthcare students. In addition there are up to one hundred Honorary Fellows, drawn from internationally distinguished members of the medical profession and branches of science and allied humanities, who are awarded this honour by Council. Members enjoy an extensive range of benefits including access to online resources, attendance at educational meetings and use of the Society's Central London club facilities which includes member-only accommodation.

Famous Honorary Fellows (of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London) include:


The RSM has more than 50 Sections, which help to shape its education programme. Each Section is led by a Section President, and supported by its respective Section Council, which members may apply to join.[9]

Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine[edit]

The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine[10] is a scientific and educational publication featuring articles ranging from evidence-based reviews and original research papers to editorials and personal views.

Edited by Dr Kamran Abbasi, JRSM has been published continuously since 1809. JRSM has full editorial independence of the RSM and features well-argued debate and dissent on important clinical topics. Although UK-based, it publishes articles of interest and relevance to clinicians internationally.

JRSM Open[11] is a companion publication to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Previously known as JRSM Short Reports, JRSM Open is a successful peer-reviewed, open-access journal, meaning there are no subscription barriers for readers. The aim of JRSM Open is to influence clinical practice and policy making across the whole range of medicine. JRSM Open has an international and multispecialty readership that includes primary care and public health professionals. It accepts articles of interest to any reader involved with improving patient care and publishes case reports, research papers and clinical reviews. A fee, to cover article processing and open access, is payable once an article is accepted for publication. The editor of JRSM Open is Dr Kamran Abbasi.


The Society's Gold Medal is awarded for outstanding contribution to medicine. Past recipients have included Wilfred Trotter (1938), Sir Alexander Fleming (1947), Lord Florey (1947), Sir Martin John Evans (2009), Lord Walton of Detchant (2014), Sir Michael Marmot (2017) and more recently Dame Sarah Gilbert (2021).

The Edward Jenner Medal was originally established 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 by the RSM to individuals who have undertaken distinguished work in epidemiological research.

The Society hosts the annual Ellison-Cliffe Lecture concerning the advancement of medicine, along with the associated award of a medal. Past presenters/recipients include Sir Walter Bodmer, Lord George Porter, Sir Colin Blakemore and Kevin Warwick.

The RSM also has a number of awards and prizes for students and trainees.[12] There are over 70 prizes available for trainees, worth a total of around £60,000. The annual Ellison-Cliffe Travelling Fellowship of £15,000 is open to Fellows of the Royal Society of Medicine working in the UK or Ireland who are of specialist registrar or lecturer grade or equivalent or who are consultants within 3 years of their first consultant appointment. The prize covers expenses for travel abroad in pursuit of further study, research or clinical training relevant to the applicant's current interests. The History of Medicine Society's prestigious Norah Schuster prize is awarded annually to an essay in the history of medicine.[13][14]

Public information[edit]

While the main function of the Royal Society of Medicine is to provide ongoing education to healthcare professionals and students, the Society offers a variety of services to the public. A series of public events, including lectures and topical debates, allows the RSM to provide a forum for informed debate amongst the public. There is also a range of meetings for school students, including an annual meeting for those considering a career in medicine, together with Christmas and Easter Lectures.


The RSM Library is open to members of the public, who can visit its exhibitions and become temporary members to make use of its reference facilities. The Library represents one of the largest postgraduate biomedical collections in Europe and contains around 600,000 volumes. This includes William Harvey's Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinisin animalbus. Due to its historical Library holdings, the Royal Society of Medicine is a member of The London Museums of Health & Medicine group.[15]


  1. ^ "RSM Events". Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  2. ^ "RSM library". Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  3. ^ Hunting, P (2005). "The Royal Society of Medicine". Postgraduate Medical Journal. 81 (951): 45–48. doi:10.1136/pgmj.2003.018424. PMC 1743179. PMID 15640428.
  4. ^ Centenary, 1805–1905, Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London. 1906. p. 186.
  5. ^ Centenary, 1805–1905, Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society of London. 1906. pp. 313–314.
  6. ^ [1] Royal Society of Medicine Council
  7. ^ " Royal Society of Medicine Directors
  8. ^ "RSM Fellowship" Royal Society of Medicine Fellowship
  9. ^ "Join a Section Council | The Royal Society of Medicine". Retrieved 2021-03-12.
  10. ^ "JRSM" JRSM
  11. ^ "JRSM Open" JRSM Open
  12. ^ "RSM prizes and awards" RSM prizes and awards
  13. ^ Penelope., Hunting (2002). The history of the Royal Society of Medicine. London: Royal Society of Medicine Press. p. 333. ISBN 1853154970. OCLC 47271565.
  14. ^ {{Cite web|url=
  15. ^ "Medical Museums". Retrieved 26 August 2016.

External links[edit]

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