John Irvine Hunter (1898-1924): Australian Anatomist and Medical Educator

Acta Med Acad. 2020 Apr;49(1):84-90. doi: 10.5644/ama2006-124.288.


This paper focuses on the short, but brilliant career of the Australian anatomist and medical educator, John Irvine Hunter. Hunter's biography is presented within the context of the early twentieth century anatomy and medical education. John Irvine Hunter was not only the youngest ever Professor of Anatomy at the University of Sydney, but he was also undeniably brilliant with regard to teaching and researching anatomy, physiology and anthropology. While his short career answered many questions in these fields, it raised more questions regarding what Hunter may have accomplished if only he had been given the chance. These unanswered questions have spawned what we now affectionately refer to as the "Hunter Legend". His most ambitious work on the dual innervation of striated muscle, while eventually disproven, formed an important stepping-stone in the bridging of anatomy and physiology. His thought-provoking concepts were viewed with much intrigue, and at the time were very well received. CONCLUSION: Hunter remains one of the most prominent and inspiring figures in the history of Australian anatomy and medicine.

Keywords: Anatomy; Australia; John Irvine Hunter; Medical Education; University of Sydney.