Lives of the fellows

Jethro Gough

b.29 December 1903 d.16 February 1979
BSc Wales(1924) MRCS LRCP(1926) MB BCh(1927) MD(1930) FRCPath(1963) FRCP*(1967)

Jethro Gough was born in Mountain Ash, Glamorgan, the son of Jabez Gough, a hay and corn merchant, and of Ellen Matilda, the daughter of Eli Mortina, a baker and shopkeeper. He went to school in Mountain Ash and then on to the University of Wales at Cardiff, and the Welsh National School of Medicine. He was one of the first group of students to qualify from the new clinical school. His student career was noteworthy for distinctions in physiology, pathology, obstetrics and gynaecology and for winning the Alfred Sheen prize and McLean medal.

He went to Manchester as demonstrator in pathology under Shaw Dunn, returning to Cardiff in 1929 as lecturer in pathology. He became senior lecturer in pathology under JB Duguid at Cardiff, and when Duguid moved to Newcastle in 1948 Gough succeeded him as professor.

Jethro Gough took a keen interest in the problems of clinical medicine, and in early years often joined senior teaching rounds. His interest in clinical pathology was responsible for the development of the excellent postgraduate training of clinical pathologists at Cardiff, as witnessed by the success of these consultants in Wales and many countries. He demanded a high standard of diagnostic histopathology. All this did not lessen his devotion to research and academic pathology.

During the 1939—1945 war, he remained in Cardiff, having the evacuated students of University College London under his care, and additional responsibilities in the blood transfusion service and in the control of infection in war wounds.

Between 1929 and 1939 he published a number of papers on various topics in clinical pathology; then in 1940 came the first of the series of brilliant papers on pneumoconiosis of coal workers, in the paper Pneumoconiosis in Coal Trimmers. With Mr Wentworth, a senior member of the technical staff, Gough developed the Gough-Wentworth large lung section technique now in world-wide use in the study of many organs. The method was described in 1949 and greatly advanced knowledge of pneumoconiosis and of many lung disorders.

Gough’s work on coalworkers’ lung disorders led, in 1969, to his being invited to give evidence before the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare of the United States Senate, a distinction of which he was most proud. He was called to assist the State of West Virginia to establish legislation on compensation for coalminers. In Wales his work was especially recognized by the National Union of Mineworkers and many associated bodies, and by the establishment in 1974 of the Jethro Gough prize in pathology, to be awarded annually in his own medical school.

Jethro Gough was one of the founders of the Royal College of Pathology and was a council member and vice-president. He was responsible for the expansion of the Institute of Pathology in Cardiff and, until his retirement in 1969, was active in the planning of the new University Hospital of Wales.

He was particularly helpful to other research workers in the school, to the Pneumoconiosis Research Unit (MRC) at Llandough Hospital, and the Asthma Research Unit at St. Davids and Sully Hospitals. He took a practical interest in studies of pulmonary heart disease. His advice was sought by many European centres working in the field of pulmonary disorders, and he participated in a number of Ciba Foundation symposia.

Jethro Gough’s work was also his hobby, which perhaps was a pity for a man with such a sharp inquiring mind. He was survived by his wife, who gave him devoted care over a long period of failing health. They had two sons, one an academic physicist and the other a pathologist in Jethro’s own school, the University Hospital of Wales.

AJ Thomas

* Elected under the special bye-law which provides for the election to the fellowship of "Persons holding a medical qualification, but not Members of the College, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of medicine, or in the pursuit of Medical or General Science or Literature.."

[Brit.med.J., 1979, 2, 507]

(Volume VII, page 221)

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