James Graham Pinney Hutchison

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 26 September 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i5176
  1. Tom Hutchison,
  2. Anne Hutchison

James Graham Pinney Hutchison entered the Royal Army Medical Corps and was posted to Trinidad in 1947. As a civilian he embraced pathology and trained at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, before moving to a lecturership in bacteriology at the Western Infirmary Glasgow in 1957. The professor, Sir James Howie, became a mentor and persuaded him to move to Birmingham in 1964, where he became the director of the public health laboratory, first in old buildings in Great Charles Street, and then in the new laboratory that he helped plan at the East Birmingham Hospital.

He was a devoted academic, with Google Scholar listing him as first author on 14 out of 42 citations on bacteriological topics. His generation grew up with the NHS and only experienced its expansion and improvement. James believed in the strength of the Public Health Laboratory Service, and after retiring he was distressed to see much of it reorganised, not for the better, in his opinion.

Our childhood memories of our father include: constructing an automated bacterial plate inoculator from Meccano; turkey at Christmas with a cylinder biopsy cavity in the breast (it had been supplied to the laboratory for bacterial testing and afterwards came home, “too good to waste”);: plaster of Paris bandages produced to make fancy dress costumes; the media furore around the Birmingham smallpox outbreak in 1978; the botulism in tinned Alaskan salmon outbreak in 1979. Finally, we were not allowed near tortoises, as apparently they were all infected with salmonella

James was an engaging man, enjoying nothing more than his music, his poems, his workshop, and his garden. He married Margot Price in 1952. She predeceased him in 2007. He leaves seven children, 23 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.

Microbiologist (b 1923; q Guy’s Hospital, London, 1946; MD, FRCP Glas, FRCPath), d 7 September 2016.

View Abstract

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription