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Thomas KC King

Professor Thomas KC King has led a distinguished career in pulmonary medicine and education since gaining his MBChB from Edinburgh Medical School in 1959.

Name Thomas KC King
Degree Course MBChB and MD
Year of Graduation 1959 and 1963

Your time at the University

Thomas King then and now

I grew up in the then British colony of Hong Kong and received my high school education at a Christian but private boarding school, Diocesan Boys’ School.

I was attracted to the University of Edinburgh because of its fame in medicine and medical education. My most favourite memories were the quality of the lectures which were both interesting and inspirational and delivered by world renowned professors.

As a point of added interest, when a schoolboy, my favourite fictional character was Sherlock Holmes. I admired his keen sense of observation and powerful deductive ability. I learned much later that the author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, happened to be a doctor and a graduate of Edinburgh Medical School.

During my attendance at Edinburgh Medical School, there were many outstanding lecturers who were inspirational as well as entertaining. Most notable were Professors Dunlop, Davidson, Donald, Romanes and Whitteridge to name a few. It is most regrettable that the American medical schools have now all discontinued large lectures to the whole class in favour of small group teaching to promote more student-teacher interaction.

The class of 1959 had a 50th reunion in 2009 which was my most recent visit to Edinburgh.

​​​​​​​My most favourite memories were the quality of the lectures which were both interesting and inspirational and delivered by world renowned professors.

Thomas KC KingProfessor Emeritus of Professor of Clinical Medicine

Your experiences since leaving the University

After graduation from Edinburgh Medical School, I went for further training at the Royal Victoria Hospital/Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland for five years and completed my MRCP (London) and a thesis for the degree of MD (with commendation) from Edinburgh in 1963.

I was awarded a MRC Traveling Fellowship to continue sub-specialty training in pulmonary medicine and research in US at Columbia University/Bellevue Hospital.

I was also a Nuffield Foundation Research Fellow in the Department of Social and Occupational Medicine at the Welsh National School of Medicine in Cardiff.

Upon my return to Hong Kong, I was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Medicine at Hong Kong University where I participated in initiating a new pulmonary division.

In 1970, I was offered a faculty appointment at Cornell University Medical College (now Weill Cornell Medicine) in New York, US, where I worked until my retirement in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine as Professor of Clinical Medicine.

During my time at Cornell, I trained hundreds of residents and fellows in the Medicine Intensive Care Unit, the Step-Down Unit and in outpatient practices. I taught the pulmonary physiology courses and instructed medical undergraduate students throughout their four years at Cornell. My contribution to medical teaching at Cornell was recognised through the Elliott Hochstein Award for Teaching.

My contributions to pulmonary research provide insights on the basic principles of respiratory physiology and pathophysiology. In collaboration with Dr William Briscoe, our research quantitated the degree of abnormality in the distribution of ventilation, perfusion and diffusing capacity in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other lung diseases.

I have also served on several scientific and health advisory boards and societies.

Alumni wisdom

Keep an open mind and pursue with vigour what is of most interest to you. Do not be discouraged and continue your pursuit.        

When instructing trainees in a pulmonary procedure called bronchoscopy to visualize the bronchial tree, not infrequently they lose their orientation when faced with a myriad of openings of the bronchial tree. I was credited with the phrase “you don’t know where you are unless you know where you have been” i.e. retrace your landmarks. Surprisingly, several trainees remarked this phrase may even be applicable in general to life experiences.

Related links

Edinburgh Medical School