- A dictionary of medical eponyms

John Robert Searls

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Died

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20th century Australian physician.

Biography of John Robert Searls

The Bairnsdale ulcer was named by John Robert Searls, a medical practitioner. He was born in 1905 and completed his medical training in Melbourne, Victoria before being appointed to Bairnsdale. He had a love for the mountains and often visited the Omeo and Benambra region.

Dr Searls spent time providing medical services to Bairnsdale as well as to the local Benambra community, as the closest doctor was based in Omeo, some 25 miles away. It was during this time, in approximately 1948, that he identified a new mycobacterial disease in patients from the Bairnsdale district. The multiple reports of this infection in the same area gave it the eponym Bairnsdale ulcer. (More than a decade later, what would eventually prove to be the same organism was isolated from many patients in the Buruli District of Uganda with the disease they called Buruli ulcer).

Because of his discovery, and ability to treat (albeit through surgical excision), amongst some parties the ulcer was also known as the Searls ulcer.

Although in later life he returned to Melbourne, he still continued to visit the district regularly, offering medical services to the locals up until his death in 1971.

Dr John Robert Searls was the son of John Searls and Alice Poole Smith, he passed away on the 17th of October 1971.

We thank John Searls for submitting information about his grandfather.

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