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Margaret Becklake: internationally renowned epidemiologist and respiratory medicine specialist

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 19 November 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4894
  1. Barbara Kermode-Scott
  1. Comox, Canada
  1. kermodeb{at}

Margot Becklake

Margaret Becklake (mostly known as Margot) dedicated six decades of her life to ensuring that others could breathe easily. She undertook international research in respiratory medicine, with a special interest in the host, environmental, and occupational determinants of childhood, and in adult airway disease. A fearless advocate for workers, she witnessed and documented the impact of asbestos, smoke, and all kinds of dust (especially in coal and gold mines and grain mills) on respiratory health in Canada, Kenya, and South Africa. Throughout her career, Becklake employed epidemiology as a tool for change and for protecting the public. She successfully challenged existing clinical dogma and worked hard to improve the lives of workers on low incomes. Remembered as a “voice of eminence and reason,”1 she became a highly respected and well liked physician, researcher, teacher, and mentor.

Born in Edmonton, Middlesex, in 1922, to James Becklake and Dorothy Mills, Becklake was raised in Pretoria in South Africa as her father was appointed …

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