A pathologist at Alberta's Children Hospital says he didn't set out to write a paper on two of Islanders who became world renowned surgical pathologists — it just happened.

Dr. Jim Wright was in Charlottetown Tuesday to deliver a lecture about Malcolm B. Dockerty and Lewis B. Woolner, both born and raised in P.E.I. whose story he discovered while doing research at the Mayo Clinic on another pathologist.

"I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Woolner … and I found Dr. Woolner so interesting I decided to write a paper about he and Dr. Dockerty."  

Both Woolner and Dockerty had similar backgrounds, growing up on farms in rural P.E.I., were educated in one room school houses, graduated with honours from Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown and Dalhousie Medical School.

They went on to train as pathologists at the Mayo Clinic. Wright says between the two of them they published 750 papers and book chapters.

"They trained hundreds of Mayo pathology residents and fellows and both received honorary doctorates from Dalhousie after retirement." 

Wanted to remember

While both men practiced general surgical pathology Wright said Dockerty published on topics of all regions of the body and Wolner was specialized in lung and thyroid pathology.  

"Their accomplishments and work is known but as medicine and pathology moves on often times accomplishments are often forgotten. But these were both true pioneers."   

Wright said while their careers were very similar, their personalities were very different. 

"Dr. Docherty would be kind of a practical jokester. He had a loud and boisterous kind of personality."

Wright said Woolner was a quieter individual.

Families of both men attended the event that recognized the two men at a meeting of the Canadian Association of Pathologists and had the opportunity to speak. 

"It was very interesting to hear the personal stories they had that a historian wouldn't know," said Wright. 


With files from Mainstreet