The teaching of medicine at the University of Cambridge dates back to 1540 when Henry VIII endowed the University’s first Professorship of Physic, Dr John Blyth.
However, for more than 300 years, successive incumbents of the Regius Chair appeared to look upon their positions as a means to an end, enabling them to do their own work without the inconvenience of having to teach students. Between the appointment of Dr Blyth in 1540 until the middle of the 19th century, only one or two medical students were registered each year, with the average number of undergraduates taking the medical course never totalling more than four.
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