Denis Dunbar Gibbs

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 16 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2076
  1. John W K Ward, John M T Ford

Denis Dunbar Gibbs had his early education in Southern Rhodesia before attending the Diocesan College in Cape Town, the University of Cape Town Medical School, Keble College Oxford, and St Mary’s Hospital Medical School. He trained in London and Oxford and obtained a Fulbright award and a research grant from the US Public Health Service to spend a year in Boston, Massachusetts, as a fellow in gastroenterology. He spent his national service as a medical specialist squadron leader in the Royal Air Force.

From 1965 to 1974 he was a consultant physician at the Good Hope District General Hospital, Sutton Coldfield, during which time he and his family lived in Lichfield. Apart from his medical duties, Denis became heavily involved in local activities, particularly following his lifelong interests in Samuel Johnson, Sir John Floyer, and Erasmus Darwin.

In 1974 he returned as a consultant to the London Hospital and stayed there till he retired in 1989. During his years as a consultant, he was one of the first to use a combined fibreoptic endoscope and gastric camera, he wrote two books and multiple papers, was an examiner to the conjoint board and universities in the UK, Iraq, and India, and he served as regional adviser to the North East Thames Regional Health Authority for the Royal College of Physicians.

In retirement in London and then in Appleford, Oxfordshire, Denis continued as a scholar, bibliophile, photographer, and historian of medicine. He lectured and wrote widely and served as president of the History of Medicine Section of the Royal Society of Medicine (1993-4), the Faculty of History and Philosophy of Medicine of the Society of Apothecaries (1997-9) and the British Society for the History of Medicine (2001-3).With his friend, Philip Wilson, he co-authored Floyer’s Advice to a Young Physician, published in 2007.

A man of compassion and integrity, a dry sense of humour, a twinkle in his eye, and a beautiful writing style, he will be affectionately remembered by the patients and doctors he helped and served. He leaves his devoted wife, Rachel; two children; and four grandchildren.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2076


  • Former consultant physician in general medicine and gastroenterology London Hospital (b 1927; q Oxford 1950; DM, FRCP, DCH, DHMSA), died from a cerebrovascular accident on 8 January 2015.

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