Lives of the fellows

John Lowe

b.3 May 1898 d.13 May 1955
MC(1917) CBE(1953) MB ChB Birm(1922) MD Birm(1937) MRCP(1947) FRCP(1954)

The death of John Lowe at the age of fifty-seven, just a year after his appointment as secretary of the British Empire Leprosy Relief Association, was a sad loss to the campaign against leprosy. He was born in Birmingham, the son of Arthur Walter Lowe, a manufacturer, and Mary Anne Smith, and went straight from the Grammar School at Aston to serve in France throughout World War I and win the Military Cross.

From 1923 to 1932 he was a Methodist medical missionary in the leprosarium at Dichpalli in the Nizam’s dominions, and there extended his knowledge of tropical diseases with a special interest in malaria. He then joined the research staff of the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine. Three years later he became head of its leprosy department and in 1943 was elected to its chair of tropical medicine. A year earlier he had been appointed assistant editor of the Indian Medical Gazette', in 1943 he became its editor.

He left India and was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind gold medal for his services. Now he renewed his interest in clinical medicine for the six years he was in charge of the research unit of the leprosy settlement at Uzuakoli in Nigeria, doing pioneer work on the essential action of dapsone. His published papers reveal his own important contributions to DDS therapy, both in its clinical aspects and in the biochemistry of the drug. He retired in 1954.

A stocky, solid and reserved man, Lowe never allowed his strong convictions to cloud his judgment; he withheld his disbelief in the early antileprotics, knowing that his criticism would undermine the faith in them that was then the corner-stone of leprosy work, until the development of the sulphones.

In 1925 he married Hilda Althea Mead, daughter of John Mead, a farmer. They had two sons, both doctors.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1955, 1, 1283, 1400; The Friend, 20 Aug. 1955; Int. J. Leprosy, 1955, 23, 217-18; J. trop. Med., 1955, 58, 146-7; Lancet, 1955, 1, 1080; Leprosy Rev., 1955, 26, 103-04.]

(Volume V, page 248)

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