o The Frog Blog: Famous Irish Scientists - Sir Dominic John Corrigan

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Famous Irish Scientists - Sir Dominic John Corrigan

Sir Dominic John Corrigan, Baronet
Sir Dominic John Corrigan was a Dublin based physician, famous for the discovery of several types of heart defects and disorders. In fact, he is widely regarded as having made the first observations of heart diseases in humans. Educated in Maynooth, he studied medicine in Dublin before completing his studies in Edinburgh, after which he returned to Dublin and set up a private practice in 1825. As well as his private practice Corrigan held many public appointments. He was physician to Maynooth College, the Sick Poor Institute, the Charitable Infirmary Jervis Street (1830–43) and the House of Industry Hospitals (1840–1866). His work with many of Dublin’s poorest inhabitants led to him specialising in diseases of the heart and lungs, and he lectured and published extensively on the subject. He was known as a very hard-working physician, especially during the Irish Potato Famine.

Throughout his career, Corrigan received numerous honours. In 1847 Corrigan was appoint physician-in-ordinary to the Queen in Ireland, two years later he was given an honorary MD from Trinity College. He became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1856 (after being initially blocked) and in 1859 was elected president, the first Catholic to hold the position (he was re-elected president an unprecedented four times). He also held the position of President of the Royal Zoological Society of Dublin (now the Natural History Museum), the Dublin Pathological Society, and the Dublin Pharmaceutical Society. In 1866, Corrigan received the honour of being created a baronet, which led to his subsequent election as a Member of Parliament for Dublin in 1870. In parliament Corrigan actively campaigned for reforms to education in Ireland and the early release of Fenian prisoners.

Corrigan's name is now synonymous with heart disease and its treatment. Several conditions are named after him including Corrigan's Pulse (a rapid forceful pulse), Corrigan's Disease (abnormal valve control in the heart, also known as aortic valve insufficiency), Corrigan's Respiration (shallow breathing during a fever) and Corrigan's Sign (chronic coppper poisoning).

Corrigan died on this day, February 1st, in 1880, having suffered a stoke the previous December. He is buried in the crypt of St. Andrews Church on Westland Row, Dublin.

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