Canadian-born Thomas Cotton (1884–1965) was the first to recognise that clubbed fingers are a sign of subacute bacterial endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, the endocardium. Cotton was educated in Montreal before working at University College Hospital in London. At the Military Hospital, Hampstead, Cotton worked with the famous physician William Osler, carrying out investigations on soldiers’ hearts.
After the First World War, Cotton set up a consulting practice and worked as consultant cardiologist to the Ministry of Pensions. While living in Canada Cotton made some good investments with his money and was therefore a wealthy man. When he died he left a bequest to the Royal College of Physicians, which he became a fellow of in 1931, asking that his mentor William Osler be remembered in the RCP’s dining room, and in an annual Osler oration, which continues today.
Where to see this painting?
Royal College of Physicians, London
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