Intended for healthcare professionals


John Henderson: paediatric respiratory epidemiologist and clinical scientist

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 04 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5359
  1. Alan Craft, paediatric oncologist, emeritus professor of child health
  1. Newcastle University, UK
  1. a.w.craft{at}

John Henderson, who has died at the age of 61, was an outstanding paediatrician and clinical scientist. The latter is someone who not only provides excellent care to his patients but delves deeper to try to find the reasons behind their problems. They form a bridge between clinicians and laboratory scientists, making sure that they answer clinically relevant questions, and bring cutting edge science to the bedside.


Henderson specialised in diseases of the respiratory system, and after training in the UK and Australia he was appointed as a consultant in Bristol and led an excellent regional service for many years. He was a superb clinician and ensured that his patients had the most up to date and effective treatments for their condition.

One of his major interests was asthma, which affects one in 10 children, or 1.1 million across the UK. It causes many deaths, and it is estimated that the NHS spends more than £1bn (€1.1bn; $1.2bn) on treating asthma each year. But, although asthma was a major part of his work, Henderson was active wherever children had breathing problems. He was especially proud of the retrieval service that he set up to bring patients from the far reaches of Devon and Cornwall, ensuring that they …

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