Obituaries

Robert Edgar Hope-Simpson

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7423.1111 (Published 06 November 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:1111

General practitioner who showed that shingles was caused by reactivation of the chickenpox virus

Edgar Hope Simpson was one of the outstanding general practitioner researchers of the 20th century. In addition to working full time in family practice he charted precisely the pattern of the common diseases that he saw clinically.


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In 1940 his wife gave him Wensleydale general practitioner William Pickles' then new book Epidemiology in Country Practice.

Hope-Simpson modelled his approach on this, and he exchanged visits with Pickles. Eventually he surpassed even Pickles' work.

The bulk of his interest was in infectious diseases. He was self taught and without any formal epidemiological or research training, but he learnt fast. He established a small epidemiological research unit around his practice in 1946 and chaired a Medical Research Council committee.

He started to write papers, particularly …

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