Lives of the fellows

George Graham

b.27 February 1882 d.12 November 1971
BA Cantab(1904) MB BChir(1908) MA MD(1912) MRCP(1913) FRCP(1920)

George Graham, consulting physician to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, was born at St. Andrew’s Place, Regent’s Park, close to the present site of the Royal College of Physicians. He was educated at St. Paul’s School and went as an exhibitioner to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took a first in the natural sciences tripos. In 1904 he won a senior open scholarship to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. He graduated MB BChir in 1908 and proceeded MD in 1912. In 1912-14 he worked on the protein-sparing action of carbohydrates as an Otto Beit Memorial Fellow in Munich.

During the 1914-18 war he was associated with Sir Archibald Garrod. After war service he was appointed physician to the Royal Northern Hospital, and in 1920 he was elected FRCP and returned to Bart’s to join the newly established medical professorial unit under Sir Francis Fraser. There he embarked on his lifelong interest in the chemistry of diabetes, describing renal glycosuria and being the first in Britain to show that the blood sugar increases after food. In his diabetic clinic, started at that time, he insisted on the need for accurate physiological control and taught his patients to look after themselves well. He was largely responsible for the formation of the hospital dietetic department. His Ladder Diet was a significant advance in the management of diabetes during the pre-insulin era.

In 1924 he was appointed assistant physician to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and on the retirement of Sir Percival Horton Smith Hartley in 1932 he became a full physician. In the second war evacuation of patients to Friern Emergency Hospital brought fresh administrative responsibilities, which he shouldered with characteristic energy.

After 22 years on the staff he left Bart’s for an active retirement. He served as a member of the North-East Regional Metropolitan Hospital Board and was chairman of the Central Group Hospital Management Committee. He was elected Master of the Worshipful Company of Barbers and was instrumental in restoring the Company’s Holbein picture of "Henry VIII with the Barber Surgeons". Among many honours he was Goulstonian and Croonian lecturer, Harveian orator, and Senior Censor of the Royal College of Physicians. He also delivered the Harben and Lettsomian lectures.

George Graham was a pioneer in teaching scientific medicine to students and applying physiological principles at the bedside. He was a man of strong convictions, which he would pursue with vigour and tenacity in the face of all opposition. He took a lasting interest in those who had worked for him.

KD Black

[, 1971, 4, 563, 629, 688; Lancet, 1971, 2, 1211; Times, 15 Nov 1971; St. Bart’s Hospital Journ., 1972, Nov., 76, 11]

(Volume VI, page 205)

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