Robert Anderson

Robert H. Anderson, MD, PhD, FRCPath.

Honored Member 2019

Robert H. Anderson, known to his friends and colleagues as Bob, was born in the English county of Shropshire, where he received his initial education. Having been accepted to study medicine at the University of Manchester, his initial encounter with anatomy, subsequent to the study as part of the medical curriculum, came when he was offered the opportunity to undertake an intercalated degree. He was fortunate to be allocated the topic of the intrinsic innervation of the heart for his initial research. Having completed his degree in anatomy, he returned to the study of clinical medicine, and qualified in 1966. He then returned to the Department of Anatomy, having completed his clinical residency appointments, ostensibly with the intention of becoming an ophthalmologist. Serendipity then intervened, and he was offered the chance to continue his researches on cardiac innervation, concentrating on the conduction tissues. This led to the award of a Doctorate in Medicine, but more importantly to the chance to collaborate with surgical colleagues in Liverpool, and with electrophysiologists and pathologists in Amsterdam. Having spent a year in Amsterdam, he was then fortunate to be offered the chance to work as clinical anatomist at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. This appointment was supported by the Joseph Levy Foundation, in collaboration with the British Heart Foundation. The support from both Foundations then continued throughout the remainder of his active career. This was undertaken from 1974 until 1999 at the Royal Brompton, and subsequently, until 2007, at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. Throughout these periods, all his studies had been directed towards clinicians, with the aim of stimulating surgical techniques, improving the management of children born with congenital heart defects, and contributing to the understanding of the various fields of diagnosis.

On his retirement in 2007, he was made Emeritus Professor at University College, London. Despite the alleged “retirement”, he has been fortunate to remain deeply involved in collaborative research ventures. Using episcopic microscopy and molecular biological techniques, he has been able to follow the fate of tissues, and thus to trace the development of the normal, and the maldevelopment of the abnormal, heart. To this end, he has received Professorial Fellowships at the Institute of Genetic Medicine, Newcastle University; and at St George’s Medical University in London. He has also been appointed Emeritus Visiting Professor at Manchester University, where he has been able to return to the studies of the conduction tissues in animal hearts.

Throughout his active career, he was also deeply involved in educational activities. These have continued subsequent to his alleged retirement, particularly in the United States of America, where he has worked with colleagues at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago to produce video teaching programmes. He also participated in teaching sessions organised by his colleague, Andrew Redington, for the Canadian fellows in pediatric cardiology. Andrew, who was initially at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, has now moved to Cincinnati in the United States of America. He is spearheading another programme for fellows in pediatric cardiology. This now results in regular teaching commitments for Bob in Cincinnati, along with similar commitments in Milwaukee, Houston, and Denver. Bob also organises regular Masterclasses in cardiac anatomy in Pittsburgh. Even more recently, he has accepted additional honorary positions in the United Kingdom, specifically at the Wessex Cardiac Center in Southampton, and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. He was particularly thrilled, in 2017, to be elected an honorary fellow of the European Congenital Heart Surgeon’s Association, and in 2018 to be granted an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy by the Nova University of Lisbon, Portugal. He is now gratified to be the Honored Member of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists for 2019.