Intended for healthcare professionals


David Dunger: paediatric endocrinologist and clinical scientist

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: (Published 13 September 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2232
  1. Rebecca Wallersteiner
  1. London, UK
  1. wallersteiner{at}

David Dunger was born in Southend on Sea to Brian Dunger who was an army officer in the second world war and later worked for Standard Chartered Bank. His mother, Jean, was a corporal in Bomber Command and later worked for Southend Football Club. Dunger attended Westcliff Grammar School for Boys, where he shone at biology and art. He later confessed to family and friends that he spent his youth in the seaside resort’s amusement arcades, carousing (and smoking) with his lifelong friend, Emmanuel. As a teenager, he decided to become a physician and resorted to buying How to be a Doctor, a slim book from WH Smith, in the absence of other career advice.

It helped—Dunger scraped into Charing Cross Medical School to read medicine through clearing. He was an unconventional medical student who spent much of his time putting on esoteric foreign films—but his passions became medicine and biology.

Medical career

A research fellowship at University College London (UCL) in physiology followed. Dunger later recalled “hairy times,” struggling to shepherd recalcitrant sheep used in the laboratory (and unharmed) into and out of the lifts at UCL to the amazement of passers-by. He then spent a year in Zimbabwe working as medical officer, where he turned his hand to surgery, adult medicine, obstetrics, paediatrics—whatever was needed in Wankie, a black mining community. This presaged his later …

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