History of the Development of Pathology

A History of the Development of Pathology in Pakistan

When we think of the development of laboratory medicine, we must briefly narrate the initiation of medical education in the sub-continent with a special reference to how and when the subject of Pathology was introduced in Pakistan. During the Raj by East India Company, the British rulers created a medical school in Calcutta in 1835-Calcutta Medical College. The college was a success; it was only about 25 years later when the British government decided to create another medical institution that was in Lahore which even in those days was a very central place for various activities of learning. The formation of Lahore Medical School came into existence in 1860. It was started at the present site of Government College University and the hospital for Lahore Medical School was just a mile away in the foreign stables near a well known ‘tibby police station’ close to one of the gates of the walled city of Lahore i.e. Texali Gate. The first principle of this medical school was J.B Scriven (1862-1870) — a civil surgeon previously located in Calcutta Medical School. Dr. Scriven and his followers worked hard to develop the Lahore Medical School that progressed to Lahore Medical College (1886) and ultimately to King Edward Medical College (1911) and in the year 2006 it became King Edward Medical College University.

The well known Mayo hospital which is the oldest teaching hospital in Pakistan, its building was completed in 1871 and inaugurated by the Earl of Mayo – then the Viceroy of India. Later on the King Edward Medical School was shifted to the present site of King Edward Medical College which was actually a railway hostel., next to Mayo Hospital. The subject of Pathology initiated in 1892 with the creation of a combined chair of Pathology and Materia medica. In 1895, the first Pathology laboratory (consisting of only 2 rooms) along with an adjoining autopsy room was created. The first independent chair of Professor of Pathology was created during the tenure of Lt. Col. J.F. Perry, who created it in 1908-09 by splitting the combined chair of Pathology and Materia Medica, (created in 1892). In 1911 the Lahore Medical College was renamed after the King Edward VII. This happened during the tenure of Lt. Col. D.W. Sutherland who later on created a post of Pathology lecturer as well, in addition to the post of Professor. The King Edward Medical College housed the famous Patiala Block (administrative and lecture complex block) and Bahawalpur Block (Pathology, Physiology and Biochemistry Block). The gross Pathology was practiced in medico-legal postmortem area which also housed a cold storage to preserve the dead bodies. Among them autopsies (pathological autopsies) were also performed on those who died due to natural causes.

The last principle of K.E Medical College of British raj before creation of Pakistan was Lt. Col. B.S Nat whereas the first principal after the creation of Pakistan was Lt. Col. Elahi Bukhsh (1947-54; 1955 – 59).

It was only two years before the creation of Pakistan i.e. 1945, Dow Medical College established in Karachi. The civil hospital was affiliated to this new College that has now been upgraded to Dow Medical College University. This was followed by the creation of numerous medical colleges at Government level and subsequently many medical colleges in private sector came up till date. They housed departments of Pathology both for teaching and the practice of the specialties of Pathology.

Early Development of Pathology as a Subject

Going back once again to the earlier time when the subject of Pathology was being practiced and it was also being taught to the undergraduates. Surgeon Captain Merry (1892-1902) occupied the first chair of pathology followed by Maj. H.G Me/vile (1902-1908). This was followed by the appointment of Captain W.M. Foster, who joined the department of Pathology of King Edward Medical College, Lahore in 1908 till 1918.

During this tenure soon after he became the in-charge of the department of Pathology, Captain Foster became the first full time professor of Pathology when Lt. Col. F.F. Perry was the principal.  He also got 2 rooms (next to the autopsy room) to make a laboratory where they could examine the patients’ material as well as the material removed from autopsies. In other words, it became a mini laboratory which was the nucleus of future department of Pathology. This laboratory served the Mayo hospital indoor and outdoor patients and who ever would need pathological examinations. Later on the Pathology services were extended to the nearby Lady Atchison Hospital which was attached to King Edward Medical College.

Meanwhile the department of Pathology at King Edward Medical College was housed in its present premises, i.e. Bahawalpur Block. In this department the laboratories were designed to accommodate Clinical Pathology, Chemical Pathology (then called clinical chemistry), Histopathology and Microbiology (Hematology was separated as a specialty during the subsequent years i.e. in 1969). Professor A. N Goyal was the last professor of Pathology at the time of creation of Pakistan and being a Hindu he left for India, in 1947. Soon after partition Khan Bahadur Yaqub Khan who was assistant professor working under professor Goyal became head of department and was promoted to the rank of professor whereas Dr. Abdul Majeed Khan was promoted as assistant professor. Later on the promotion of A.M Khan to the rank of professor and his transfer to the College of Community Medicine was followed by the promotion of Abdul Hameed Shiekh as 2nd professor of pathology at King Edward Medical College.