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Griffith Edwards

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 29 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7234
  1. Michael Farrell, director, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney NSW 2031, Australia,
  2. Wayne Hall, professor and National Health and Medical Research Council Australia fellow, deputy director (policy), University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, QLD, Australia
  1. Michael.Farrell{at}

Key contributor to the study and science of addiction

Griffith Edwards’s piercing brown eyes radiated warmth and mischief. He was an iconoclastic thinker and researcher who destroyed false idols during a long and successful career in medicine, psychiatry, and addiction research.

Edwards came to alcohol and addiction studies in its infancy and over 50 years contributed his inexhaustible energies towards building it as a scientific subject. He was born in India; his veterinary scientist father developed a vaccine for rinderpest (or cattle plague) and his maternal grandfather was a senior veterinary scientist. Both had been journal editors.

After schooling in Andover he went to Balliol College, Oxford, in 1947, initially to study mathematics before transferring in his second year to medicine. He did his clinical training at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. He had longstanding interests in philosophy and mathematics and an encyclopaedic knowledge of the work of David Hume and medical predecessors in the study of alcohol problems, such as Thomas Trotter, the Georgian …

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