• Vol. 36 No. 7, 565–572
  • 15 July 2007

A Brief History of Pathology and the Chapter of Pathologists



Pathology was the first specialty practiced in Singapore, and celebrated its centenary 2 years ago. A brief history of the discipline and the Chapter of Pathologists are presented here. Significant milestones especially inaugural events are recounted.

A history of the Chapter of Pathologists would be incomplete without a history of the specialty of Pathology in Singapore. Pathology is in fact the first specialty practiced in Singapore. This was due to the seriousness of the public health situation and infections like water borne diseases in Singapore at the turn of the last century. This led to the Municipal Commissioners to develop the laboratory service, and the creation of a new post of Bacteriologist in 1902. Dr George Alexander Finlayson arrived on 12 May 1903 to become the Municipal Bacteriologist. Besides being involved in a wide range of activities in combating infectious diseases, Dr Finlayson also carried out histopathological examinations on tissue specimens, and performed post-mortem autopsies on patients who had died at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital. With the high death rates at the time, the Government decided in 1905 to establish a pathology department with a full time pathologist. This was the first specialist appointment in the Government Medical Service, and Dr Finlayson became the first Government Pathologist on 12 May 1905

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