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University Lecturer in Anatomy, 1921-57

AliceCarletonwebsite.pngDr Alice Carleton MA, MD came to Oxford from Dublin, joining the Department of Human Anatomy in 1921 to teach women students, the first woman to be appointed lecturer in Anatomy at Oxford. Soon after the end of the first world war, she was lecturing to large classes of both men and women. As recognised in her British Medical Journal obituary: “Her influence and ability as a teacher extended through the whole school, and her tutorials and "grinds" became almost a must for anyone aspiring to pass the first BM.” She became renowned for her wit and her signature command “Look boy, look!” She taught many notable scientists, including Dame Alice Josephine Barnes, the first ever woman appointed President of the British Medical Association, who cited Dr Carleton as one of her main influences.

Her professional life was not confined to anatomy; she was also an accomplished dermatologist. In the 1930s, she visited Paris and Vienna and acquired her dermatology skills. Her presence was noted at an early meeting of the British Association of Dermatologists, her practice became widespread, including Swindon and Cirencester, and indeed, she became well known across Europe. She became an assistant in dermatology at the Radcliffe Infirmary and later was elected a member of the honorary staff. During the war she wrote papers on British anti-lewisite (BAL) and published a few significant case histories. She was the first British dermatologist to visit Japan and she published a few anecdotes about this.  The black and white photos in the Oxford Textbook of Dermatology in the 1990s were taken by Dr Carleton’s photographer, Tugwell, and deemed outstanding by reviewers. She became President of the British Association of Dermatologists (1950-51) and was later appointed as the Prosser White Lecturer at the old Royal College of Physicians. In later life she taught in several universities in North America with great success.

Alongside her successful dermatology career, by the 1950s Dr Carleton was still teaching Anatomy part-time in the Department of Human Anatomy, although her principal role was consultant dermatologist at the Radcliffe Infirmary, where she also provided occasional revision classes in Anatomy to clinical medical students nearing their finals. Throughout her career, Dr Carleton published several notable papers as sole author. In 1936, she published “The Limb-bones and Vertebrae of the Extinct Lemurs of Madagascar” (Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 106). In 1937, she published “Note on the Osteology of Palæopropithecus” (Journal of Zoology, B107). In 1941, she published “A comparative study of the inferior tibio-fibular joint” (Journal of Anatomy, 76). She was also one of the first to write about hereditary factors in venous leg disorders, and her observations can be read in “Hereditary predisposition in vascular disturbances of the leg” (Jama Dermatology, 57, 1948). Dr Carleton retired in 1957.