Duncan, Donald (1903–1987)

By: Chester R. Burns

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 1994

Updated: October 3, 2019

Donald Duncan, professor of anatomy at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, was born in Marietta, Minnesota, on January 31, 1903, the oldest son of Henry and Clara (Olson) Duncan. He earned membership in Phi Beta Kappa and graduated from Carleton College in 1923. He received a master's degree (1927) and a Ph.D. degree (1929) in anatomy from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. Duncan taught anatomy at the University of Utah (1929–30), the University of Buffalo (New York, 1930–32, 1942–43), Louisiana State University (1943–46), and the University of Texas Medical Branch (1932–41, 1946–68). He served as chairman of the UTMB Department of Anatomy for twenty-five years and associate dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UTMB for sixteen years (1952–69). From 1952 to 1968 he and M. Mason Guest represented UTMB at regular meetings of the Graduate Assembly at UT Austin. Their efforts were extremely important in the development of the school's graduate programs in the biomedical sciences. In 1968 the UT Board of Regents honored Duncan by designating him the Ashbel Smith Professor of Anatomy at UTMB.

Duncan was called "Daddy D" by admiring medical and graduate students, whom he encouraged to become involved in medical research. He published numerous research papers, especially in neuroanatomy, and served as editor of the American Journal of Anatomy for eight years (1960–68). He was a charter member of the Texas Society of Electron Microscopy. He served as president of the Texas Academy of Science (1962) and the American Association of Anatomists (1967); in 1971 the latter gave Duncan its highest honor, the Henry Gray Award. On September 18, 1924, he married Margaret Aileen Eberts. They had three daughters. Duncan was an Episcopalian. He died in Austin on February 17, 1987.

Donald Duncan Papers, Truman G. Blocker, Jr., History of Medicine Collections, Moody Medical Library, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston. Galveston Daily News, February 19, 1987. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston: A Seventy-five Year History (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1967). Who's Who in America, 1980–81.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Chester R. Burns, “Duncan, Donald,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/duncan-donald.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994
October 3, 2019

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