Lives of the fellows

Henry Francis Moore

b.4 June 1887 d.25 January 1954
MB BCh BAO Dubl(1912) MD Dubl(1917) DSc Dubl(1922) MRCPI(1930) FRCPI(1932) MRCP(1938) FRCP(1939)

Henry Francis Moore was born at Cappoquin in co. Waterford. His father, James H. Moore, a distinguished civil engineer, had been engaged in railway construction in Peru and had returned to Ireland ill with tuberculosis. His mother, née Griffen, was a native of Kerry. She was a somewhat aloof person who had few social contacts, and after her death, which occurred whilst he was at school, Henry was looked after by two of her elderly relatives who were parish priests in the diocese of Kerry. Before then both his father and his elder brother had died at Killarney. He was educated at St. Brendan’s College, Killarney, and from there went to Dublin where he read a most distinguished medical course in University College.

After holding a house appointment at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital he won a travelling scholarship and went to the Pharmacological Institute in Berlin. When the outbreak of the 1914-18 War interrupted his work there he moved to the Rockefeller Institute in New York, where he spent the next four years as a research assistant and published his first papers on the therapeutic value of inorganic copper compounds in pneumonia. For this work he was awarded the M.D. in 1917.

Soon after his return to Dublin in 1919 he was elected to the staff of the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, where he set up the first clinical biochemical laboratory in Ireland. He was awarded the degree of D.Sc, in 1922 and five years later was elected to the chair of medicine in University College, Dublin. In 1928 he was appointed by the Government as its representative on the newly established Medical Registration Council of Ireland; he remained a member until his death.

In 1932 he was elected F.R.C.P.I, and in the same year was president of the section of medicine of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland. In that year he also commenced a three year term as external examiner in medicine to Queen’s University, Belfast. For many years there had been a demand from teachers in all Irish schools for some financing and co-ordinating body to foster medical research. Moore was foremost in seeking this, and in spite of much discouragement he pursued it relentlessly until in 1937 he had the satisfaction of seeing the Medical Research Council of Ireland established. He was a foundation member and continued a member until a month before his death. The establishment of this Council must rank as one of his greatest achievements.

During these years Moore published a number of papers dealing with achlorhydria, hypochromic anaemia, Addisonian anaemia, the Gee-Thaysen disease, bundle branch block and other cardiac conditions, diabetes and many other subjects in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, British Medical Journal, The Lancet, Quarterly Journal of Medicine, Irish Journal of Medical Science, Archives of Internal Medicine and Journal of Experimental Medicine.

In 1952 he obtained from Messrs Merck, of New Jersey, U.S.A., a large supply of cortisone for the Medical Research Council of Ireland which was allocated for clinical trials by a committee of the Council of which he was appointed chairman. Certain subjects were chosen for study—some eye conditions, the toxaemias of pregnancy, and of course the rheumatic disorders. Although he was aware that he had a serious degree of hypertension Moore threw himself into this activity with all the enthusiasm of his youth, abandoned a great part of his private practice, and incurred much resentment and hostility through his refusals to supply cortisone where the conditions did not warrant it. This seriously undermined his health.

At the end of 1952 he was invited by the Research Corporation of America to visit the United States to speak about the work. He lectured at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota and also the University of Chicago, but found the strain of the tour too great and was obliged to come home before his programme was completed. His last year was a gallant struggle against failing powers. The unexpected death of his wife in 1953 removed his constant prop, and a series of minor cerebral episodes was mercifully terminated by a cerebral haemorrhage from which he did not awaken.

Henry Moore was not a well trained clinician and was not gifted with deep insight, but he had an uncanny sense of seeing the essential and of seizing it. His mind therefore led him on one track and he pursued this in the face of every obstacle. He came to Dublin on the wave of biochemistry and mechanisation which in the early 1920's threatened to overwhelm bedside observation, and his approach to the patient remained always through the laboratory in which he had spent his formative post-graduate years.

His lonely childhood with its dependence on indulgent adult companionship had helped to develop his character—self-centred, quick tempered and impatient with opposition. He was never on close terms with his contemporaries and had no feeling for committee work or discussion. He did not feel bound by agreed decisions and his disregard for these was a source of frequent embarrassment to his colleagues. In person he was good-looking, with dark brown wavy hair and a pleasant expression. He was short and slim, alert and quick moving.

In his earlier years he prepared his clinical lectures and ward-rounds with scrupulous attention to detail, but he never knew a student and few of them knew him. He was as aloof to them as they were remote from him. But if any of them or of their friends were ill or in trouble they were amazed to find that the indifferent mask concealed kindness beyond anything they had ever suspected.

To know him one had to see him in his beautiful home in Killiney, where his wife, so perfect a hostess, joined with him in making welcome the appointed guest or the casual wayfarer. This lovely home was part of him and the wrench of leaving it after his wife’s death tore him apart. He had few hobbies or interests outside his professional work. Fishing in the west of Ireland was almost his sole recreation, and whenever he could get away from his engagements he betook himself to Lough Corrib in Galway.

He had married in 1927 Miss Frances Thomas, of New York, whose mother was a member of the well-known New England family of Allerton. They left one son, Allerton Henry Moore.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 1954, 1, 337-8; Irish J. med. Sci., 1954, March, 135; J. Irish med. Ass., 1954, 34, 84; Irish Press, 26 Jan. 1954 (p); Irish Times, 26 Jan. 1954; Lancet, 1954, 1, 373-4.]

(Volume V, page 291)

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