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Gordon Canti

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 23 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k776
  1. John Canti

Gordon Canti was born in Hampstead, north London, the third son of Clara Clarissa (née Eyles) and Ronald George Canti (1884-1936).

His father’s family had descended from a line of makers of scientific instruments who, displaced from their native Como by Napoleon’s invasion of Austrian ruled Lombardy in 1796, had moved permanently to England. Ronald George Canti, his father, educated at Charterhouse and King’s College, Cambridge, had become a consultant pathologist at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and pursued a wide range of interests—from time lapse microphotography of living cell cultures to the earliest radiotherapy devices—before his untimely death at the age of 52. His father’s infectious enthusiasm, inventiveness, and wide range of knowledge and skills were a powerful influence. Gordon remembered watching, as a small boy, the rushes of his father’s extraordinary cine films of cell division, projected on the dining room wall, as a crucial inspiration that led to his later choice of a career in medical research.

Gordon Canti went to school at Uppingham, where he and his brother, Tony, spent as much time as they could away from institutional activities, preferring instead to explore the wildlife of the surrounding countryside.

After school he enrolled at St Bartholomew’s Hospital medical school. He was a student at Barts when war was declared against Hitler’s Germany in 1939. In the first world war, most medical students had abandoned their medical studies to sign up as ordinary officers in the armed forces, which resulted in a dearth of newly trained doctors for many years afterwards. This time, therefore, medical study was designated as a reserve occupation exempt from mandatory conscription. Gordon used to travel back and forth to St Bartholomew’s from St John’s Wood, where he was living in his mother’s flat. He remembers what a strange feeling it was, while seated …

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