- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Robert William Reid

Born 1851
Died 1939

Related eponyms

Scottish anatomist, 1851-1939.

Biography of Robert William Reid

Dr. Ian Olson, Aberdeen, Scotland, sent us this biography of Robert William Reid:

Robert William Reid was the third son of the Reverend William Reid, minister of Auchindoir. He graduated MB CM in 1872, MD in 1875, gaining an FRCS (England) in 1881. After a year as assistant to John Struthers (1823-1899), he was appointed Demonstrator of Anatomy at St Thomas’s Hospital, where in 1884, he proposed a simple and reliable guide for brain surgery, then in its infancy. This was a surface anatomy method of cerebral localization where the topography of the brain could be related to a system of lines drawn between large and easily felt landmarks on the surface of the head. In particular, he sought to locate specific sulci and gyri accurately enough for exposure following removal of a one inch piece of bone.

This system Reid founded on a base line which ran 'through the lowest part of the infraorbital margin and the middle of the external auditory meatus. 'Reid's Base Line' is used for an unambiguous definition of the orientation of the human skull in conventional radiography, computer tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies. In 1962, the World Federation of Radiology defined it as the line between the infraorbital margin and the upper margin of the external auditory meatus.

In 1889 Robert William Reid succeeded Struthers to the Regius Chair of Anatomy, holding it until 1925. During his time in Aberdeen he made significant contributions to the development of Anatomy and Anthropology in the University. He established an anthropometrical laboratory in the Anatomy Department in 1896, which formed the foundations of the Department's significant work on the growth of children. In 1902 he installed an X-ray apparatus, an early precursor of the X-ray laboratory donated by Lord Beaverbrook (William Maxwell Aitken, 1879- 1964) in 1919. In 1907, he succeeded in bringing together the disparate collections of anatomical, archaeological and anthropological material that then existed within the University to form the University of Aberdeen Anthropological Museum for which he remained its Honorary Curator until 1937.

  • Alexander Low:
    Professor R. W. Reid, M.D. LL.D.
    Aberdeen University Review, 1939, 27: 37-39.

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