William Cullen was born at Hamilton, Lanarkshire (Scotland) on 15 April 1710 and died at Edinburgh on 5 February 1790. He was the most influential of the teachers of the University of Edinburgh Medical School, which flourished in the latter half of the eighteenth century. His own university education began at Glasgow, where he completed the arts curriculum in 1727. Over the next few years he served as surgeon on a merchant ship and as an apprentice to an apothecary in London. He became a student in the University of Edinburgh Medical School in 1734, completing his programme in 1736. His teaching career began in 1744 at the University of Glasgow where he was appointed professor in 1751. He taught the theory and practice of medicine, as well as botany and chemistry. His work in chemistry – especially his theory of heat – was important for its influence on his renowned pupil Joseph Black, who succeeded him at Glasgow in 1756. In 1751 Cullen was appointed to the chair in chemistry at Edinburgh; he moved to that of the institutes (i.e. theory) of medicine in 1766; and to the practice of medicine in 1773.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.