Lives of the fellows

Alastair Campbell Frazer

b.26 July 1909 d.14 June 1969
CBE(1962) MRCS LRCP(1931) MB BS Lond(1932) PhD(1941) MD Birm(1943) DSc Lond(1945) MRCP(1945) FRCP(1952)

Alastair Campbell Frazer, born in London, was the son of Wilson Ray Frazer, a Civil Servant. His mother was Grace Haldane Robbs, daughter of C.H.D. Robbs, a medical practitioner. He was educated at Lancing College and St. Mary’s Hospital. After house appointments at St. Mary’s Hospital he was a Lecturer in Physiology, until in 1942 he went to Birmingham as Reader in Pharmacology, becoming Professor in the following year. The scope of his Chair was enlarged to include medical biochemistry and this post he held until 1967, when he became first Director-General of the British Nutrition Foundation. His principal scientific interest was in the physiology of intestinal absorption and he gained an international reputation for his work on the mechanisms of fat absorption with particular reference to the various forms of steatorrhoea. In Birmingham he developed a flourishing research school centred principally in lipoid physiology. He was also an authority on the chemistry of food with particular reference to toxic contaminations. These interests were recognised by his presidency of the British Food Manufacturing Industries Research Association and his appointment as a scientific adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

He was a member of the Committee on Safety of Drugs and at the time of his death he was Chairman-Designate in succession to Sir Derrick Dunlop.

Another of his interests was tropical medicine and he was a member of the Tropical Medicine Research Board. In 1955 he was the Chairman of the Commission on Health Policy for Uganda and in 1961 Chairman of the Commission on Research Service in East Africa.

Frazer was a big man of tremendous energy and an all-embracing geniality. These characteristics superimposed on his scientific ability made him innumerable friends and he was frequently invited to lecture both at home and abroad. In 1956 he gave the Oliver Sharpey Lectures on Studies on intestinal absorption in man.

In 1939 at the outbreak of war as an Officer in the University of London OTC Frazer was mobilized at No. 2 Depot RAMC. The following year he returned to St. Mary’s Hospital to undertake virtually unaided the teaching of physiology. He continued, however, to devote much energy to Home Defence and from 1942-1947 he commanded the University of Birmingham OTC.

In 1943 he married Hilary Garrod. She was descended from Sir Archibald and Sir Alfred Garrod. He had three sons and one daughter.

Apart from his professional and scientific work Frazer’s main interests might be said to be friendly human contacts.

Death came suddenly at his home in London.

Sir W Melville Arnott

[Brit.med.J., 1969, 2, 706, 767, 829; 3, 787; Lancet, 1969, 1, 1323; Times, 17, 21 & 24 June 1969]

(Volume VI, page 186)

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