Person NameSanders; William Rutherford (1828-1881); Professor; physician
HistorySanders was born in Edinburgh on 17 February 1828, the son of James Sanders, physician. His education began at Edinburgh High School, but was interrupted when, in September 1842, the family went to Montpellier for the sake of James Sanders's health; he died there in 1843. Sanders's education was completed at Montpellier University, where he took with distinction the degree of bachelier-├Ęs-lettres in April 1844. He returned to Scotland in June that year, and began to study medicine at Edinburgh University. He took his MD in 1849, obtaining a gold medal for his thesis, 'On the anatomy of the spleen', which laid the foundation for some of his later pathological studies.

After two years in Paris and Heidelberg, Sanders returned to Edinburgh. While occupying the interim position of pathologist in the Royal Infirmary in 1852 he was able to pursue his study of certain degenerations affecting the liver and spleen. He acted as tutorial assistant to the clinical professors and contributed numerous papers to the medical journals. In 1853 Sanders succeeded John and Harry Goodsir as conservator of the museum of the College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and when required he delivered lectures and gave demonstrations to make the museum's holdings more widely known to medical students. From 1855 he also delivered in the extra-academical school of Edinburgh a six-month course on the institutes of medicine, including physiology and histology, with outlines of pathology. In 1861 he was appointed physician to the Royal Infirmary.

Sanders's first major paper was 'Case of an unusual form of nervous disease, dystaxid, or pseudo-paralysis agitans, with remarks' (Edinburgh Medical Journal, 10, 1865, 987-97). Later he took up the subject of aphasia, in connection with Broca's researches, and that of 'the variation or vanishing of cardiac organic murmurs', and contributed articles to John Russell Reynolds's System of Medicine (1866) on some subjects connected with nervous disease. Although he never published his own medical memoirs, such was his reputation that in 1869, when the chair of pathology in the university became vacant by the death of Professor Henderson, Sanders was appointed. He immediately introduced new methods of teaching, which were then generally adopted. At the same time Sanders built up a reputation as a consulting physician in Edinburgh.

A chronic abscess, which formed in January 1874, temporarily interrupted Sanders's professorial work and private practice. Although he resumed both, his health was not restored. In September 1880 he had an attack of right hemiplegia or palsy, together with loss of speech so complete as to prevent him communicating either by speech or by writing, although his mental faculties remained almost, if not quite, intact. His biographer in the Edinburgh Medical Journal remarked upon the touching coincidence that he should have become an example of the very affliction that he had studied himself. He died at Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, on 18 February 1881 after a sudden attack of apoplexy, coupled with complete loss of consciousness.

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