Obituaries

Muriel Lina (“Molly”) NewhouseHarry Melville BalfourColin Alistair BirksGeorge David BurnettKathleen Mary Cairns (née Lyons)Ashoke Kumar (“Mintoo”) ChatterjeeRodney Vincent Tracy ForsterRamzi George GhazalaWilliam Dillon HughesMichael Peebles Lewis

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7239.944 (Published 01 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:944

Muriel Lina (“Molly”) Newhouse


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Occupational physician and epidemiologist who won international recognition for her work in identifying the health dangers of asbestos (b South Africa 1912; q Royal Free Hospital 1936; FRCP, FFOM), died from cardiac failure on 15 February 2000. When Molly joined the Nuffield Department of Medicine in Oxford she seemed set on an academic career in clinical medicine. But the second world war intervened and she served as a medical specialist with the Royal Army Medical Corps, landing in Normandy soon after D Day and serving subsequently in India and Singapore as a colonel. After periods as a research assistant in Oxford working on hepatitis, she spent four years in Barnet as a senior medical registrar and a period in Cyprus as a part time government medical officer. It was while she was working in the Institute of Dermatology that her interest in occupational diseases began with a study of dermatitis in car workers. Molly then embarked on the first course in occupational medicine at the London School of Hygiene, and later joined the staff as lecturer and subsequently reader in occupational health.

She made the school her academic home, undertaking several studies in occupational dermatitis; the working capacity of women doctors; allergy to proteolytic enzymes; and the mortality of shipyard welders. Richard Schilling described her as “a benign but fearsome ferret,” able to persuade even the most reluctant to take part in her surveys. Trawlermen disembarking from a long, alcohol free and hazardous voyage, intent on reaching the nearest bar, are not the most willing subjects for a complete skin examination by a woman doctor, but she achieved 94% compliance in her masterly study of “Dogger Bank Itch.”

In 1965 Molly turned her attention to the problem on which she became a world authority—mesothelioma of the pleura, which had long …

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