Carmichael, Richard (1779–1849), surgeon, medical reformer, and benefactor, was born 6 February 1779 in Dublin, fourth son of Hugh Carmichael, solicitor, and Sarah Carmichael (née Rogers), and was educated privately by the Rev. John Fea. Apprenticed to Robert Moore Peile (1763?–1858) in 1794, he completed his education at the House of Industry Hospitals, Dublin, graduating licentiate (1795) from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, subsequently becoming member (1803), censor, member of the court of examiners (1808), and president (1813, 1826, 1845). Assistant surgeon to the Wexford militia (1795–1802), he was appointed surgeon to St George's Hospital and Dispensary, Dublin (1803), and to the Lock Hospital, Dublin (1810), where his knowledge of venereal disease earned him an international reputation. From 1816 to 1836 he served as surgeon to the Richmond (later St Lawrence's) Hospital, Dublin; when John MacDonnell (qv) and Robert Adams (qv) applied for the vacant post of surgeon, Carmichael resigned, thereby ensuring the appointment of both men. In 1846 he resigned as a consulting surgeon in the interests of younger colleagues, confining himself to home consultations and teaching. He assisted MacDonnell at the Richmond in the first operation in Ireland to be performed under general anaesthesia (1 January 1847). He was well known for his research on cancer, scrofula, and particularly syphilis, for which he advocated the limited use of mercury, publishing An essay on the venereal diseases which have been confounded with syphilis (1814).
A leading figure in medical education and reform, and a distinguished teacher, he was principal founder of the Richmond Hospital School of Anatomy, Medicine, and Surgery (1826), where he lectured in surgery, anatomy, and physiology and was principal for two years. He donated money during his lifetime and bequeathed £10,000 to the school, which was renamed the Carmichael School of Anatomy, Medicine, and Surgery (1849), and bequeathed £3,000 in trust to the RCSI for essay prizes on medical education and reform. Joint founder (1839) and president from 1839 of the Irish Medical Association (forerunner of the Irish Medical Organisation), which lapsed in 1846, he campaigned for the union of the medical and surgical professions, with apothecaries as a separate profession. He advocated a uniform professional education and examinations in medicine, surgery, and pharmacy for all medical students, publishing Plan of medical reform (1841); his principles became mandatory in the 1858 medical act and its amendments (1886). A founder of the (Royal) Medical Benevolent Fund Society of Ireland (1842), he was the first Irishman to be elected a corresponding member of the French Royal Academy of Medicine (1835); he was elected one of six presidents on the founding of the Dublin Pathological Society (1838); a member (1812) and council member (1820) of the RIA, and member of the RDS.
In 1825 he left the Church of Ireland and joined the Strand St. congregation of Unitarian Christians. He was a cousin of Dr Hugh Richard Carmichael (c.1790–1872), joint master of the Coombe Hospital, Dublin. Carmichael was accidentally drowned (8 June 1849) in Dublin Bay, and is buried in St George's parish cemetery, Dublin. His works are listed in the Dublin Q. Jn. Med. Sc., ix (1850), 493–504, and an engraving of him is preserved in the NLI. He married Jane Bourne; they had no children.