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Fifty years of medical ethics: from the London Medical Group to the Institute of Medical Ethics
  1. Edward Shotter1,
  2. Margaret Lloyd2,
  3. Roger Higgs3,
  4. Kenneth Boyd4
  1. 1Dean Emeritus of Rochester, Rochester, Kent, UK
  2. 2University College London, London, UK
  3. 3King's College, London, UK
  4. 4Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Kenneth Boyd, Biomedical Teaching Organisation, Edinburgh University, Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH89AG, UK; k.boyd{at}ed.ac.uk

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The history of the Institute of Medical Ethics (IME) has been well recorded. Accounts of its origins in the London Medical Group (LMG) were published in an academic paper of 2003,1 in the transcript of a Wellcome Witnesses to Twentieth Century Medicine Seminar in 20072 and in a chapter of the 2009 Cambridge World History of Medical Ethics.3 In 2013, 50 years since the inauguration of its first series of lectures and symposia, the LMG as an organisation no longer exists, but its aspirations and achievements are alive and well, both in the Journal of Medical Ethics and in the IME, now exploring a new phase as a membership organisation. Other papers in this issue will discuss the history and prospects of the Journal and Institute. But the LMG, similar medical groups in all other British medical schools and the Society for the Study of Medical Ethics from which the IME derived also have a significant continuing life in the thinking and practice of many medical and healthcare professionals who participated in their activities, and then in turn on those influenced by their thinking and practice. The LMG, it could be said, is ‘no more’ an organisation ‘Now but a whole climate of opinion’.4

A bottom-up (r)evolution

The first medical students to be involved in the LMG may not have foreseen its influence on their future careers, but many were aware of being part of something new and exciting. One of those with whom the first lecture series was planned was Margaret Lloyd (née Rose and now Emeritus Professor of Primary Care and Medical Education, University College London). The beginning of the LMG in 1963 was an exciting time for medical students in London. As a mature student entering St Mary's Hospital Medical School (now part of Imperial College) …

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