Denis Parsons Burkitt, an Overlooked Surgical Oncologist
Denis Parsons Burkitt, 1911–1993
2018 is the 25th anniversary of the death of a remarkable surgeon, Denis Parsons Burkitt. While most remembered for ‘Burkitt’s Lymphoma’, he was also the first to define and popularize the relationship between diet and disease. As a colonial and missionary clinical surgeon in Uganda, far removed from laboratories and research grants, he was exposed to uniquely different disease patterns. Based on his inquiring mind, his ability to think ‘outside the box’, with a willingness to address big questions in medicine, he was instrumental in opening entirely new fields of inquiry, research, and concepts of disease.
With an engaging personality, extensive contacts with third-world physicians as well as academics, extensive exposure to the unique diseases (and absence of other common diseases) in the rural African population, prolific writing, humility, lack of ego needs, and a delightful humorous speaking style, he became world-renowned during his life. He...
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