B E Christopher Nordin

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 30 March 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1733
  1. Amy Coopes, Sydney, Australia
  1. coopesafp{at}

Osteoporosis researcher who became known as the “Calcium King”

A seminal figure in osteoporosis research, whose work on vitamin D, calcium, and menopause was critical to modern thinking about bone metabolism, B E Christopher Nordin was a man of singular determination, who swapped the foreign service and political ambitions for a career in medicine.

Born to an English mother and Swedish father in London on 14 March 1920, Borje Edgar Christopher Nordin regarded himself as an Anglo-Swedish Finn. His parents met in Milan as students on the opera scene just before the first world war, and his grandmother, Mary Marshall Kennedy, was one of the “Cambridge Five”—the first female students admitted. She was one of his earliest influences and sparked a lifelong passion for learning.

An aptitude for languages—he was fluent in English, Swedish, French, and German—led him to the British Legation in Stockholm during the second world war, where he worked as a translator and nursed loftier ambitions.

“My intention was to go into politics by way of journalism . . . I was fascinated by the House of Commons and thought I could get into this career by way of journalism, and into journalism by way of languages,” he wrote in an unpublished 2012 memoir.

Realising he could never rise through the diplomatic ranks without a degree, Nordin decided to enrol in university and, with the encouragement of his mother, chose medicine—parting ways with politics, though always destined …

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