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He was born at Killiney, County Dublin.
As an author he was known as Robert Collis. As a doctor, he was commonly known as Doctor Bob Collis. He joined the British Army in 1918 as a cadet, but resigned a year later to study medicine.He was appointed Director of the Department of Paediatrics at the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, and in 1932 physician to the National Children"s Hospital, Harcourt Street.He developed neo-natal services at the Rotunda, particularly for premature babies. He worked for the Red Cross in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after its liberation by Allied troops.He was instrumental in bringing five orphaned children from the camp to Ireland in 1947, and adopted two of them. He was involved in establishing Cerebral Palsy Ireland.One of his first patients was Christy Brown, a cerebral palsy patient who later became a notable author himself.Collis proofread Brown"s first attempt at an autobiography.