- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Robert Marcus Gunn

Born  1850
Died  1909

Related eponyms

Scottish ophthalmologist, born 1850, Dunnet, Sutherlandshire; died November 29, 1909, Hindhead at Haslemere.

Biography of Robert Marcus Gunn

Robert Marcus Gunn was the son of a farmer in Dunnet, in the far northwest of Scotland. He studied medicine at the University of St. Andrew’s and the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated, with distinction, in 1873. As a student here he was influenced by James Syme (1799-1870) and Joseph Lister (1827-1912), and the ophthalmologist Douglas Moray Cooper Lamb Argyll Robertson (1839-1909).

After graduation he was house physician in Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, and also worked in comparative anatomy with Edward Albert Sharpey-Schäfer (1850-1935) at University College, London. He then obtained a job at the Perth District Asylum where he surveyed the retinal appearances of the patients, employing direct ophthalmoscopy, which he had taught himself. In 1874 Marcus Gunn spent 6 months in Vienna, working with Christoph Friedrich Jaeger Ritter von Jaxtthal (1784-1871), Carl Ferdinand Ritter von Arlt (1812-1887) or Karl Stellwag von Carion (1823-1904) as a teacher. In 1876 he returned to Moorfields Eye Hospital as a resident medical officer. In this position he introduced the sterile principles of Joseph Lister, thus obtaining better results in cataract operations.

In 1879 Marcus Gunn went to Australia to collect eye specimens from the indigenous species, particularly marsupials. On his return, he examined the zoological material collected by Charles Darwin’s Challenger expedition.

In 1882 Marcus Gunn obtained a fellowship of the Royal Surgeons, and the next year he was appointed assistant surgeon to the Moorfields Eye Hospital. He was appointed as surgeon in 1888, and when he died in 1909 he was senior surgeon of that hospital. He was an excellent surgeon and introduced systematized teaching of eye disorders.

He was keen on outdoor life, with interests in botany, marine biology, and zoology, spending his holidays collecting fossils. He donated his large collection to the British Museum.

What is an eponym?

An eponym is a word derived from the name of a person, whether real or fictional. A medical eponym is thus any word related to medicine, whose name is derived from a person.

What is Whonamedit?

Whonamedit.com is a biographical dictionary of medical eponyms. It is our ambition to present a complete survey of all medical phenomena named for a person, with a biography of that person.


Whonamedit? does not give medical advice.
This survey of medical eponyms and the persons behind them is meant as a general interest site only. No information found here must under any circumstances be used for medical purposes, diagnostically, therapeutically or otherwise. If you, or anybody close to you, is affected, or believe to be affected, by any condition mentioned here: see a doctor.