Bigger, Joseph

Joseph Warwick Bigger (1891-1921)

Joseph Warwick Bigger was born on the 1st of September 1891 in Belfast, son of Sir Edward Coey Bigger and Maude Coulter Bigger. The family moved to Dublin and Joseph was educated at St. Andrew’s College and then at Trinity College, Dublin where, in 1916 he graduated MB, BCh, and BAO and in 1918 MD and DPH.

Shortly after graduation he was appointed demonstrator in pathology and bacteriology at Sheffield University, but returned to Dublin in 1919 to become pathologist and medical inspector under the Local Government Board and professor of forensic and preventive medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons.

Much of the success of the ‘clean-milk’ campaign carried out in Dublin soon afterwards was due to his pioneer work. In 1924 he resigned both posts on his election to the chair of preventive medicine and bacteriology at Trinity College Dublin, where he was also dean of the medical school from 1936 to 1939. He was awarded a ScD degree by the University of Dublin in 1925. During WWII, he was assistant director of pathology to Northern Command at York. There, despite most unfavourable conditions, he published a series of papers on his researches into antibacterial substances.

Shortly after his return home he was elected a university representative of the Senate (1947-1951). In addition to the extra duties of pathologist to St. Patrick Dun’s and the Royal City of Dublin Hospitals he served on many learned bodies, including the Medical Registration Council, the Medical Research Council of Ireland, the General Medical Council and the council of the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland.

Joseph Bigger was a prolific writer and a clear exponent and advocate of the application of his researches to clinical medicine. He died on the 17th of August, 1951 in Dublin.


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