Furthering knowledge and healing wounds

Mon, 27 Apr 2020 16:44:00 BST

Just like during the current crisis, staff at the University have risen to extraordinary challenges in the past. Today, they remind us how knowledge can heal wounds, and how people’s responses to difficult times can offer pioneering insights for the future. One such person was Baron John Stopford, whose contributions to the treatment of gunshot and nerve injuries during the First World War led to significant breakthroughs.

When war was declared in 1914, John Stopford was working as an anatomist at the University’s medical school. As the horrific extent of injuries at the front became clear, the School played a key role in devising and refining methods of treatment for the new types of injuries that were being suffered, and Stopford carefully studied and developed means to treat gunshot wounds that had damaged soldiers’ peripheral nerves. He continued to treat soldiers at Grangethorpe Hospital for ten years after the end of the war.

Stopford’s experience led him to a long and successful career in academia and administration. In 1919, at the extraordinary age of 31, Stopford was promoted to Professor of Anatomy and, in 1927, he became the first graduate of the University’s Medical School to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. His observations on nerve repair following surgery led to the publication in 1930 of his pioneering book Sensation and the Sensory Pathway. Stopford was later recruited by Anuerin Bevan to run the Manchester Regional Health Board, overseeing the region’s transition to a National Health Service. In recognition of his work, he was made Lord Stopford of Fallowfield in 1958. The University's Stopford building is named in his honour.