International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Robert Hastings

    Status Physician, Medical Researcher
    Country USA


    Dr Robert Hastings (1938-2014) was a physician, pharmacologist, leprologist, and editor. Born in Tennessee, after graduation with a medical degree and a doctorate in pharmacology from Tulane University, Dr Hastings joined the United States Public Health Service and took up a position at the Gillis W. Long Hansen’s Disease Centre in Carville. He was Chief of the Laboratory Research Branch of the National Hansen’s Disease programs until his retirement in 1994. He worked on drugs against the disease and is most notable for defining the role of thalidomide in leprosy. The International Journal of Leprosy benefited from his editorship for twenty-three years (from 1979-2002). He also edited Leprosy in 1985, a key text for anyone remotely interested in anti-leprosy work.

    In his obituary in Leprosy Review, David Scollard writes:

    "He dedicated this text to his granddaughter, born in 1983, ‘in the hopes that her children, and her children’s generation all over the world, [would] be free from leprosy.’ Bob was a skilled and empathetic physician, an outstanding intellect, and a critical thinker. He was self-effacing and genial in his interactions with colleagues ranging from prominent scientists to those just beginning their careers. In his farewell as the Editor of the Journal he wished, to those continuing in the field, ‘every success in making further contributions to some of God’s most needy people, leprosy patients.’ He will be greatly missed and long remembered for his contributions to the fight against leprosy." Leprosy Review 86 (2015): 130.

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