Celebrating 100 years of surgery at St Mary’s Hospital


Panel discussion at the event

A panel discusses design innovation

Celebrating 100 years since the establishment of the Chair of Surgery at St Mary’s Hospital London.

On Wednesday 26 April, over 130 people, including surgeons, medics and researchers, came together to celebrate 100 years since the establishment of the Chair of Surgery at St Mary’s Hospital London.

The event at the Royal Society recognised the milestone by looking back at innovations and highlighting notable achievements of the past century.

Since the establishment of the Chair of Surgery at St Mary’s, with Professor Charles Pannett appointed in 1922 and first holding the role, we have seen great changes in surgery.

From the first successful blood transfusion in 1667, carried out on a student wishing to supplement his income to transformational advances in anaesthetics, to the discovery of antibiotics and the development of transplant surgery, we have seen great improvements in patient care. And from an organisational perspective, the Academic Surgery Unit at St Mary’s restructured to ultimately become the Department of Surgery and Cancer, and part of the Imperial College Faculty of Medicine; the Faculty is this year celebrating its 25 year anniversary.

Professor Darzi at Lectern in front of audience
Professor the Lord Ara Darzi welcomes attendees

In 2023 “St Mary’s retains a distinctive and significant presence on the national and international surgical scene,” said Professor the Lord Ara Darzi, Co-Director, Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, despite the many years and the administrative changes.

The event included a series of talks presenting historical vignettes on pioneering interventions – highlighting the first carotid endarterectomy by Felix Eastcott, and celebrating notable figures: In 1993, Professor Averil Mansfield achieved a vitally important breakthrough as the first female Professor of Surgery in the UK.

The sessions highlighted the importance of multidisciplinarity and of policy in achieving better patient outcomes.

Professor George Hanna, Head of Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial said: “100 years of academic surgery at St Mary’s is the foundation for the future of surgery at Imperial working on the limits of current practice to advance the boundaries of surgery for a better patient survival and quality of life. The celebration event demonstrated the convergence of multiple disciplines to create innovative solutions and technologies that address challenges in patient care and healthcare systems.”

The forefront of innovation

Attendees discussed the role of technologies in the future of surgery. Enormous advances in imaging technology and robotics in recent years have transformed surgery once more. Today, machine learning and AI are being employed in disease identification and diagnostic support, powered by the NHS’s unrivalled sources of data. The future of genetic testing supports more personalised medicine. With these advances, surgeons, engineers, data scientists and patients recognise the crucial need to translate cutting edge research to improve healthcare and make it more equitable.

Speaking on the day, Professor Lord Darzi, said: “Our universities and teaching hospitals are powerhouses of new ideas and there is a huge opportunity to advance this country’s standing and prosperity in science, surgery and medicine. But it cannot be done without investment… Quality and safety must be our touchstone. They are at the centre of all our efforts to improve healthcare and make it more equitable.”

  • 70 King Charles, with two people in blue scrubs, uses a laparoscopic simulator

    King Charles uses a laparoscopic simulator

  • Anatomage table

    Anatomage table

  • Ara Darzi and Sanjay Purkayastha, wearing surgical masks, operating

    Ara Darzi and Sanjay Purkayastha, operating, 2000

  • Painting of frontline doctors in blue scrubs with yellow background

    Gregory Lindsay, The Frontline Team Doctors II, 2020. Oil on canvas. Image courtesy Imperial Health Charity. © Gregory Lindsay.

  • Julian Opie art of people in window at St Mary's

    Julian Opie, 2012. Glass panel and vinyl design. Installation view at St Mary's Hospital, Lindo Wing. Image: Peter Cook. © Julian Opie.

  • St Mary's Hospital

    St Mary's Hospital

See the full selection of images celebrating the history, innovation and impact of 100 years of surgery at St Mary’s Hospital at 100yearssurgery.org.

Chairs of Surgery at St Mary's

  • 1922: Professor Charles Pannett, first Academic Surgery Unit (ASU) Chair
  • 1950: Professor Charles Rob
  • 1960: Professor William Irvine
  • 1973: Professor Hugh Dudley
  • 1988: Professor Pierre Guillou
  • 1993: Professor Averil Mansfield
  • 1998 Professor Ara Darzi, final chair of St Mary’s before the restructure to Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London
  • 1997: Formation of Imperial College School of Medicine, appointment of Professor Sean Hughes
  • 2001: Restructured to Faculty of Medicine Imperial College London
  • 2005: Professor Ara Darzi
  • 2007: Professor Mervyn Maze
  • 2009: Professor Jeremy Nicholson
  • 2019: Professor George Hanna


Victoria Murphy

Victoria Murphy
Institute of Global Health Innovation