- A dictionary of medical eponyms

John Ferguson Smith

Born  1888
Died  1978

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British physician, born 1888, London, East Ham; died 1978.

Biography of John Ferguson Smith

John Ferguson Smith was born in London, East Ham, where his father was an Anglican clergyman. The family came from Edinburgh and soon moved back to Scotland, this time to Glasgow. He graduated from Glasgow with his M.A. in 1907 and M.B. in 1911. As a young physician he spent one year in general practice among the coal miners of Ayrshire, he did bacteriological research under Carl Browning, and for one year travelled the world as a ship's surgeon.

During the whole of World War I he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in France and as mentioned in dispatches. In the latter part of the war he was a pathologist, but because his time was not fully occupied he also looked after the skin patients of the British Army.

His career in dermatology began in 1919, when he worked in bacteriology and assisted George McIntyre in the Skin Department at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, the hospital where Joseph Lister (1827-1912) had introduced "antiseptic surgery". In 1922 he took charge of the department.

Ferguson Smith belonged to the British Association of Dermatologists from its inception in 1921, and was its president 1928-1929. In 1936 he was awarded the MD with honours and received Bellahouston Gold Medal for his work on the bacteriology of sycosis barbae, a scourge of the shaving male in those pre-antibiotic days.

We thank Anton Pozniak for information submitted.


  • J. O. Alexander:
    Obituary of Dr. John Ferguson Smith.
    The British Journa of Dermatology, September 1978, 99 (3):341-343.
  • Alan Lyell:
    The man behind the eponym. John Ferguson Smith (1888-1978).
    The American Journal of Dermatopathology, New York, December 1986, 8 (6): 525-528.

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