Lives of the fellows

David Nunes Nabarro

b.27 February 1874 d.3 October 1958
BSc Lond(1893) MB BS Lond(1898) MD Lond(1899) DPH Lond(1901) MRCS LRCP(1897) MRCP(1901) FRCP(1917)

David Nabarro, the son of Jacob Nabarro, a merchant, and Hannah, daughter of David Ricardo, of Amsterdam, was born in London. He was educated at Owen’s School, University College, London, which he entered with an Andrews scholarship, and University College Hospital. In 1898 he gained the Fuller exhibition in pathology and pathological anatomy and, with his doctorate in medicine, the gold medal and the exhibition of the Worshipful Company of Clothmakers. He held the posts of demonstrator of physiology and histology at University College and house physician at University College Hospital, and was for a time a ship’s surgeon before returning to his parent college as assistant professor of pathology and lecturer in bacteriology in 1899. There he remained until 1910, holding also the appointment of pathologist to the Evelina Hospital for Sick Children in 1901-02. In the following year, as a member of the Royal Society’s commission on sleeping sickness, he went to Uganda with Sir David Bruce and Dr Aldo Castellani. He did not receive the deserved recognition of the part he played in the discovery of the causative trypanosome and the method of transmission of the disease. In 1905 and 1906 he was awarded scientific grants by the British Medical Association to conduct an investigation on butter and its substitutes for the presence or absence of the tubercle bacillus.

From 1912 to 1939 he was clinical pathologist to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children. As director of the pathological department and chief in the venereal diseases department he extended the work of the Hospital, establishing the section for biochemistry and the first clinic for children’s venereal disease, and enlarging accommodation for bacteriology, haematology and morbid anatomy. For some twenty years from 1908 he was scientific assistant in pathology in the University of London. His many articles in medical and scientific journals show the extent of his valuable researches, and his book, Congenital syphilis (1954), is a classic. He was a founder member and a president of the Medical Society for the Study of Venereal Diseases, a president of the Association of Clinical Pathologists and of the London Jewish Hospital Medical Society, an honorary member of the British Paediatric Association, a corresponding member of the Société de Pathologie Exotique, and a senior member of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. His hobbies were gardening and philately; he was a recognised authority on the stamps of the Falkland Islands, and in his seventy-ninth year was awarded a silver cup for the best paper to a philatelic journal.

Nabarro was modest and retiring, but beloved by all his colleagues and juniors for the warmth of his help and understanding. He married Florence Nora Webster in 1914 and had one son and one daughter.

Richard R Trail

[, 1958, 2, 919-20 (p), 984; Lancet, 1958, 2, 804 (p); Times, 4 Oct. 1958.]

(Volume V, page 301)

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