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Historic Hospital Admission Records Project

Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow

Joseph Coats M.D (1847-1897)

Pathologist appointed in November 1882 prior to the opening of the Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow.

Joseph Coats was born in Paisley - near Glasgow - on the 4th February 1848. He entered the Arts Faculty at G the University of Glasgow but after 2 years he changed Faculties and proceeded to complete a medical course. He was a brilliant student and graduated in 1867, with Honours. .

After qualifying he was the assistant to one of the highly respected physicians of that era - Dr William Gardiner at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. In addition to his appointment as a physician, Dr Gardiner was also the first appointee as a Medical Officer of Health for Glasgow. This was also the time at which Lister made the major break through by introducing antiseptic surgery. It was an exciting time in medicine.

To extend his knowledge Joseph Coats went off to Leipzig to work in Professor Ludwig's department for a year. He studied experimental physiology with a group of distinguished scientists. On his return to Glasgow in 1869 he was appointed as pathologist to the Royal Infirmary. Around that time the University moved from the crowded east end of Glasgow to Gilmorehill in the West End. This area had open spaces around and the Western Infirmary (the new university hospital) was built and opened in the early 1870s. Coats was appointed to the Western infirmary as pathologist in 1875 and continued in that and in other appointments including pathologist to the Hospital for Sick Children until his early death in 1899. The Board of the new Sick Children's Hospital appointed Dr Coats as pathologist in the initial set of appointments of honorary medical officers.

He introduced the teaching of practical pathology to students and published the first of a series of Glasgow pathology textbooks which became the "bibles" on pathology by Robert Muir, his successor, and then continued by Cappell and others.

Dr Coats had broad interests published extensively. His contribution as editor of the Glasgow Medical Journal was extensively reported in obituaries. His abilities were recognised by Glasgow University in 1893, when he was appointed Professor of Pathology but illness curtailed his career, and he died from bowel malignancy when he was only 50 years of age.