Lives of the fellows

Lucien Paul Rollings Fourman

b.14 December 1918 d.8 October 1968
MRCS LRCP(1941) MB BS Lond(1941) MRCP(1943) MD(1944) FRCP(1959) DSc(1960)

Paul Fourman was born in London, the son of Maximillian Fourman, a translator, and his wife Lucie, daughter of William Cashman, an engineer. He was educated at the Lycée Français in London and Guy’s Hospital Medical School. In 1941 he qualified with the Conjoint and also graduated MB BS with honours. In 1943 he took the MRCP and proceeded MD a year later. He was elected a Fellow in 1959 and obtained his DSc London in 1960.

Paul Fourman served in the RAMC during the second world war from 1945-1946, working in India as a member of a sprue research team with D.A.K. (Sir Douglas) Black and others, and it was there that he also wrote his first published papers. The experience stimulated a lasting interest in malabsorption states and steatorrhoea. After demobilization, with the rank of Major, he joined the Nuffield Department of Medicine at Oxford, under L. J. Witts, and then spent a year in Boston with a Rockefeller travelling fellowship from 1948-49. There he worked with Bartter and Albright, and it was his work with Fuller Albright which started him off on his long detailed study of calcium and bone metabolism, and the role of the parathyroid glands, which proved so rewarding and was still in progress, with constantly widening ramifications, at the time of his death. He returned to Oxford as a medical tutor in the University Medical School, but in 1952 went to Cambridge as a member of the Medical Research Council, under R.A.McCance, working in the department of experimental medicine. In 1954 he became senior lecturer and then reader at the Welsh National School of Medicine. He was chairman of a working party which reviewed the medical curriculum, and he began the whole day staff-student symposia which are still a feature of the medical programme in Cardiff. He also carried out nine years’ intensive work on calcium metabolism and parathyroid deficiency, and rapidly became an international figure in this field. The seal was set on his reputation by the publication of his book Calcium Metabolism and the Bone in 1960.

Paul Fourman was an excellent research worker and a brilliant teacher whose methods were often unconventional and whose language was frank. He had the ability to enthuse others and built up a nucleus of promising experimental workers, some of whom went with him to Leeds University when he was appointed to the chair of clinical investigation in 1963. He encouraged the research aspiration of others, teaching, using his clinical skills, and writing. He had enormous energy and drive, set a hard pace and high standards, was critical of others but even more critical of himself. He was always receptive to new ideas and had boundless enthusiasm for life. A European, speaking fluent French, German and Spanish, with a smattering of several other languages, he recognized no hierarchical boundaries, nor those of age, nationality, or social order, and his thoughts were constantly turned towards international cooperation. He was an important influence in helping this writer to found the European Society for Clinical Investigation.

In 1946 he married Julia Mary, daughter of Ronald Sewell Hunton, a company director, and they had four children. His wife was a research worker in her own right and he was always enormously proud of her success. They were a unifying force wherever they went, giving large informal parties and holding ‘open house’ for a wide variety of friends. They much enjoyed the overheard comment of a neighbour, when they were living in Oxford, that their house put out empty beer bottles as other people put out milk bottles. They were an extremely happy family and a shining example of the influence that can be exerted by people who are unaffectedly happy and good.

Paul’s capacity to understand the difficulties and dissatisfactions of the young must have made him not only a father but a real friend to his young family. In appearance and speech he himself gave an impression of perennial youth. His interests were extraordinarily wide and progressive, ranging from languages and travel, through student and social problems and the medical curriculum, to music and his E-type Jaguar car. He was as proud of his car and his Veteran Driver’s certificate as of any of the honours that came his way.

Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
V Luniewska

[, 1968, 4, 192; Lancet, 1968, 2, 878]

(Volume VI, page 181)

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