Lives of the fellows

John (Sir) Badenoch

b.8 March 1920 d.16 January 1996
Kt( 1984) BA Oxon( 1941) BM BCh(1943) MRCP( 1949) MA(1952) DM(1952) FRCP(1959) FRCP Edin(1982)

Known as one of the best of generalists, John Badenoch taught several generations of medical students at Oxford University. He was to become director of clinical studies and was later a consultant physician at the Oxford group of hospitals and a university lecturer. His Oxford career, and his career in medicine, began in 1938 at Oriel College. The war prevented him taking an honours degree and he stayed in Oxford for his clinical training. He was one of some sixty students, many evacuated from London hospitals, welcomed by Alec Cooke to a clinical school, revived in 1940 after sleeping for 140 years. In 1941 a Rockefeller student fellowship took him to Cornell University Medical School in New York. He returned to Oxford as Leslie Witts’ [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.618] house physician in 1944. Military service in Nigeria and Ghana followed, initially with the West African Rifles and later as a major in command of a two hundred bedded hospital. He returned to head a small unit for the care of sick officers in Kent. After demobilization in 1948 he spent a few months in his father’s general practice in Leyton, an experience which influenced his broad general consultant practice in later years.

He rejoined Witts as a graduate student in 1949, studying with Sheila Callender mechanisms of anaemia in malabsorptive states, as one of the first to use radioisotopes and gastric biopsy in clinical investigation. This distinguished work formed the basis of his Goulstonian lecture in 1960. He followed Sidney Truelove in organizing teaching in the young clinical school in 1954 and continued as director of clinical studies until 1965. Increasing requests for his opinion from Oxford’s general practitioners led to a move from the Nuffield department to an NHS consultantship and a large and demanding private practice. Work began earlier and finished later and later. Not someone ever to show his feelings beneath an urbane exterior, it was a wonder to his colleagues that he didn’t show more evidence of exhaustion than he occasionally did. Not content with such a busy clinical life, he also became increasingly occupied in committee work at which he excelled. There was scarcely a committee in Oxford (and there were many of them) on which he did not serve. In the early years the most important committees were the ones planning the John Radcliffe Hospital and the new clinical school at Cambridge.

John Badenoch was very much a college man, both at Merton and in the Royal College of Physicians. In the former he was a fellow from 1965 and sub-warden in 1976, in the latter an examiner for the MRCP, chairman of the examining board, procensor, censor, senior censor and ultimately Hans Sloane fellow from 1986 to 1991. After retirement he served on the GMC and was a much respected and wise chairman of the fellowship committee of the British Heart Foundation, of the joint committee on vaccination and immunization, of the committee of enquiry into the outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in Stafford and another concerned with contamination of water supplies by cryptosporidium.

How did he do all this and remain a family man with hobbies in photography and in ornithology? There must have been an overwhelming drive to hard work, perhaps inherited from his ancestors from the north east of Scotland. He was not an easy man to know - always calm, measured, and somewhat inscrutable to his colleagues. He married Anne Forster in 1943. They had two sons and two daughters.

J G G Ledingham

[Brit.med.J., 1996,3 12,906; The Times, 12 Feb 1996; The Independent, 27 Jan 1996]

(Volume X, page 15)

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