Obituaries

Lord Butterfield of StechfordAllan William AbramsonHarry BentleyGerald Frederick BondJohn ComynAlfred George HounslowThomas Richardson (“Dick”) MauriceDavid MuttuPeter Colin RichardsonMichael Stewart Rees Hutt

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7264.836 (Published 30 September 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:836

Lord Butterfield of Stechford


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Former regius professor of physic and master of Downing College, Cambridge, academic, and clinician Guy's Hospital (b Birmingham 1920; q Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, 1945; FRCP; OBE, Kt), d 22 July 2000. In a career which spanned half a century he brought a mixture of enthusiasm, warmth, and scientific imagination to the rather rigorous climate of British academic medicine. In 1946 he was appointed to the staff of the Medical Research Council, spent several years with the Royal Army Medical Corps studying skin burns in relation to nuclear explosions, and worked with Sir William Penney at the British atomic bomb tests in the Monte Bello Islands. Chance observation of a blood glucose effect of the poison gas antidote, British antilewisite, turned his attention to diabetes, which became his main preoccupation after his appointment in 1958 as professor of experimental medicine at Guy's.

For the next 12 years John Butterfield headed a lively team working on diabetes from its tissue biochemistry, with pioneering studies of human forearm muscle metabolism, to its epidemiology in the field. This took the department off en masse to conduct the Bedford Diabetes Survey of 1962, which was the foundation of the major revision of the glycaemic criteria for diabetes diagnosis, still being fine tuned today. He was concerned with the establishment of the academic department of general practice at Guy's, which still provides primary care services to the then new town of Thamesmead.

In 1971 he was appointed vice chancellor of the University of Nottingham, where he tried to pacify a restless student body and presided over the creation of the clinical years of the medical school. At the same time he played a central part in developing the clinical school at the University of Cambridge, where he became regius professor of physic from 1976 to …

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