Lives of the fellows

Joseph Godwin Greenfield

b.24 May 1884 d.2 March 1958
BSc Edin(1906) MB ChB Edin(1908) MD Edin(1921) Hon LLD Edin(1955) MRCP(1917) FRCP(1925)

Joseph Greenfield, the son of William Smith Greenfield, professor of pathology and clinical medicine at Edinburgh, and Charlotte Foster, daughter of a Bristol architect, was one of the British leaders in neuropathology between the two World Wars. His education at the Academy and Merchiston Castle School led to his graduation with first class honours and the Freeland Barbour scholarship in pathology of Edinburgh University.

In 1914 he was appointed pathologist to the National Hospital, Queen Square, where he had earlier spent two years in house appointments and post-graduate study. Except for a break of five years during World War I, when he served as a captain, R.A.M.C., in France and Belgium and at the Tooting Hospital for injuries of the nervous system, he was to remain there for thirty years. From 1923 to 1946 in his capacity as dean he endeared himself to his colleagues and the resident staff, who read an innate simplicity and kindness beneath a rather formidable surface of incisive criticism.

In 1936 he was Morison lecturer of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and in 1938 Oliver-Sharpey lecturer of our own College. From 1934 to 1937 he was president of the Association of Clinical Pathologists, to whom he delivered their second Foundation lecture in 1955, the year in which his Alma Mater honoured him with an LL.D. He was also the founder and first president of the Neuropathological Club (1950), president of the Association of British Neurologists (1954-6), and president of the section of neurology of the Royal Society of Medicine (1938).

On his retirement in 1949 Greenfield continued his work at Queen Square on a part-time basis, and was near the close of a third period as visiting scientist to the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Blindness in Bethesda, Maryland, when he died suddenly in Washington D.C. He had been a distinguished golfer in his early days; later he took up tennis, carpentry, photography and gardening, in all of which he excelled. In 1915 he married Florence Mary, daughter of John Edward Jaeger, of Barnsley, Yorkshire. They had two daughters and one son.

Richard R Trail

[Arch. Neurol. Psychiat. (Chicago), 1958, 80, 587-96 (p), bibl.; Brit.med.J., 1958, 1, 585-6 (p), 715; J.Clin.Path., 1958, 11, 281-2; J.Path.Bact., 1959, 78, 577-92 (p), bibl.; Lancet, 1958, 1, 540-41 (p), 596, 648, 700; Neurology (Mimeap.), 1958, 8, 499 (p); Times, 3, 4 Mar. 1958.]

(Volume V, page 164)

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