Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Sir Hugh Cairns, the first Nuffield Professor of Surgery in Oxford and consultant neurosurgeon to the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War II, was a leader in helping to establish neurosurgery as a speciality in Britain. After learning the craft from Dr Harvey Cushing in Boston, Cairns fought against the general surgical orthodoxy in London to establish the first specialised neurosurgical unit in a teaching hospital. We review his early life, training with Cushing, his inspiring character and administrative prowess which not only helped to win the battle for neurosurgery in London but also helped to establish the Oxford Clinical School and to save thousands of lives during the Second World War.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Neurosurg

Publication Date





190 - 196


History, 20th Century, Neurosurgery, United Kingdom