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Royal Medical Society

The Royal Medical Society (RMS) is an educational society run by medical students for medical students studying at the University of Edinburgh.

The RMS originated as a small group of students that met after their formal teaching to further their medical knowledge. Together, they purchased a cadaver for dissection and met socially, developing into the fortnightly meetings we still run today. Eventually, the society raised funds to build their own official rooms beside what is now the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. These were sold and the society moved to 7 Melbourne Place, just off the famous Royal Mile. The RMS has close connections with the Colleges of Surgeons and Physicians in Edinburgh, having shared so much over their histories.

As the city was redeveloped, the society moved its rooms from the High Street to above the student hub of Bristo Square. This move coincided with the sale in 1969 of the extensive library the society had collected: including copies of Galen’s works from the mid-16C, and many first editions from its famous members. The revenue from this sale contributed to the RMS Trust, which continues to manage the society’s estate.

Edinburgh has been a hub of medical advancement and it is a little surprise to see the names of so many influential medics in our roster: William Cullen, a founder of the Society and later Professor of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh; Sir James Young Simpson, discoverer of the anaesthetic properties of chloroform; Joseph Lister, Thomas Addison and Thomas Hodgkin are just a few of the members who were actively involved in the society and Charles Darwin, who originally studied Medicine at Edinburgh before dedicating himself to his evolutionary studies.

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