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Lionel Smith Beale

Professor Lionel Smith Beale (1828 – 1906)


Pioneer of the microscope in clinical medicine

Lionel Beale was a prominent advocate for the scientific investigation of disease, and for the importance of the microscope and chemical pathology. His association with King’s spanned most of his life. When he was nine, he joined King’s College School (then a junior department of the College). At the age of 25, he was appointed as Professor of Physiology at King’s College London, following Robert Bentley Todd. After resigning from this post, he was made physician to King's College Hospital and promoted to professor of medicine in 1876, where he remained until his retirement in 1896. 

In the nineteenth century, England lagged behind continental Europe in the laboratory investigation of disease. Beale argued for laboratories to be set up in teaching hospitals and for government grants to investigators. He worked with Bowman [link] on the histology of renal structures and muscle fibres and developed the clinical and practical aspects of microscopy. In 1854 he published The Microscope and its Application to Clinical Medicine, setting out procedures for microscopic examination of blood, urine, tumours and parasites.

Beale undoubtedly did more than any other medical scientist of his generation to diffuse the new techniques and approaches of laboratory medicine, especially microscopy, to English-speaking audiences.’
Michael Worboys