Lives of the fellows

David Frank Grant Davies

b.30 June 1922 d.26 October 1993
MB ChB Birm(1944) MRCS LRCP(1945) MRCP(1948) MD(1958) FRCPath(1971) FRCP(1973)

David Davies was born in Oldhill, Staffordshire, where his father, Walter Thomas Davies, was a school headmaster. After early schooling at Oldhill he went on to King Edward's School, Birmingham, and then entered Birmingham University to study medicine. After qualification he held registrar and senior registrar posts in pathology at Birmingham and the Royal Hospital, Wolverhampton. He was assistant pathologist at Wrexham from 1953 to 1959 and was subsequently appointed as group consultant pathologist at the West Wales General Hospital, Carmarthen, a post he held until his retirement.

‘DF’, as he was affectionately known to his colleagues, epitomized a particular generation of clinical pathologists. He obtained a broad training in clinical medicine, obtaining the MRCP as the essential entry qualification to pathology, which he regarded as a specialty within the field of medicine. This equipped him to practice as a clinical pathologist with duties, together with the ability to undertake them, in all branches of pathology. This was the heyday of clinical pathology. David was later to regret the way in which pathology split into rigidly demarcated sub-specialties in the district general hospital setting. He went on to gain an enviable reputation for his clinic expertise and his contribution to the medical services in south west Wales. He took over a laboratory which had around 15 members of staff and supervised its expansion to a staff of over 50, in addition to a separate PHLS microbiology department. Part of his training was spent at Wolverhampton - the professional home of S C Dyke [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p. 156], the founding father of the Association of Clinical Pathologists - and he belonged to a generation of pathologists who had a broad vision. Despite a heavy routine workload he took on many extra departmental activities. He would often be seen at clinical meetings and was chairman of the local postgraduate society. His contributions were always to the point and he had a delightful sense of humour, the latter expressed in a well preserved North Midlands accent which an intensely Welsh environment never erased.

David’s research interests were undoubtedly ahead of his time. For many years, partly on his own and partly in collaboration with the MRC, he did original work on cow’s milk antibodies in relation to ischaemic heart disease and further work on the antigenicity of the bovine fat globule membrane, its xanthine oxidase content and a possible relationship with antioxidants. This work was done well in advance of subsequent over simplistic attempts to explain ischaemic heart disease in terms of animal fat intake. He also did novel studies on the electrophoresis of erythrocytes, chylomicron migration and immunoglobulins in coronary disease. When he retired a department which he had taken on as a single-handed consultant was staffed a little later by five consultant pathologists.

Although it meant a sense of deprivation from a career in which he had found fulfilment, retirement was not difficult for him. He found delight in his family, garden and Lake District holidays. Having established roots, both literal as well as metaphorical, he continued to live in Carmarthen. He married his wife Doreen May Davidson, known as ‘Dawn’, in 1953. She was formerly a consultant anaesthetist. They had three children, a son who is a neurologist, and two daughters - one of whom is a doctor. David died from a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and during a short illness, for which he received treatment in his old department, he maintained the same cheerfulness that had characterized his life.

DEB Powell

[Brit.med.J.,1994,308,337]

(Volume X, page 94)

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