Professor Courtenay Bartholomew

Medical Researcher

Professor Courtenay Bartholomew was the first Trinidadian-born Professor of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of the West Indies. He is currently the Director of the Medical Research Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago and Professor Emeritus of Medicine.

He has had an illustrious career spanning over four decades and is highly regarded as a clinician and medical researcher. He is especially reputed for his work on scorpion induced pancreatitis, viral hepatitis and on pioneering new approaches to the diagnosis of bowel disease in the Caribbean via endoscopic procedures. He has also been credited with the diagnosis of the first cases of AIDS in the English-speaking Caribbean.

   Aids Virus

Courtenay Felix Bartholomew grew up in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He attended Nelson Street Boys’ R.C. School and then St. Mary’s College where he came 4th in the island in the House Scholarship Awards of the Senior Cambridge Examination in 1948. He was an avid sportsman in cricket, football and table tennis and after obtaining the Higher School Certificate in languages in 1950, he worked for four years in Her Majesty’s Customs before leaving for Dublin, Ireland to pursue medical studies. He graduated in medicine in 1960 from the University College Dublin (UCD).

In 1964 he was the first West Indian to obtain a specialty degree in the subspecialty of gastroenterology from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. In 1965 he was awarded the Doctorate in Medicine (DM) from the National University of Ireland. He joined the Faculty of Medicine, UWI in 1987 as the first lecturer in medicine to inaugurate the Medical School in Trinidad and Tobago. In 1983 he was the only West Indian to be awarded the MRCP degree (Member of the Royal College of Physicians of London) without examination. He is also the only West Indian to be awarded Honorary Fellowships from the three Royal Colleges (Ireland, Edinburgh and London). He has served as visiting clinical professor at the Liver Unit, University of Miami and the Gastroenterology Unit of the Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University, Canada.

He was awarded the Chaconia Medal Gold by the government of Trinidad and Tobago in 1975 for long and meritorious service in the field of medicine and in July 2004, he received the rare honour of Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Medicine of UCD. He has also been appointed a member of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO.

Taken from the book Trinidad & Tobago Icons in Science and Technology Volume 1
See also

Interesting Fact

Professor Courtenay Bartholomew has authored seven books on his research on the Blessed Virgin Mary and has also spearheaded the restoration of three historical Catholic churches in Trinidad, including the design of 25 stained glass windows.


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