Lives of the fellows

Joseph Reginald Nassim

b.10 September 1908 d.10 December 1975
BA Oxon(1929) MRCS LRCP(1934) MA BM BCh(1935) MRCP(1936) FRCP(1950)

Reginald Nassim was born in Calcutta where his father, Elias Nassim, was a broker. His mother, Ramah Judah, was the granddaughter of a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.

Nassim was educated at Cheltenham, Exeter College, Oxford, and St. George’s Hospital. He probably had the best brain of his contemporaries and after qualification was appointed house-surgeon to Ivor Back, to whom he was temperamentally suited in that they both had very sharp minds. Then, after being house-physician to James Torrens, the senior physician at the time, he became medical registrar at St. George’s. In 1938 he went to work under Charles Best in Toronto and, with Best and Solandt, was among the first to suggest, on the basis of experimental work on dogs, that heparin could have a place in the management of coronary thrombosis in man. On returning home at the beginning of the second World War he joined the RAMC and rose to the rank of lieut.-colonel in charge of a medical division of a hospital, latterly in France.

Shortly after the war he was appointed consultant physician to St. George’s and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. Being very interested in metabolism his enquiring mind was given full rein in a specialised orthopaedic hospital. He quickly established a unit at the country branch at Stanmore where he did excellent work on a number of topics, including osteoporosis, Paget’s disease, multiple myeloma and the skeletal effects of malabsorption.

Although the medical aspects of orthopaedics became his first love, he was perhaps one of the last, first class, all round physicians. He was a very popular and excellent teacher, always getting the best out of his students with his wit and humour. However, he could be unmerciful to his colleagues, young and old, if they made loose statements, which he would destroy. But he was incapable of being unkind.

His private practice was not large but he never sought for it - the two hospitals and their attached medical schools were his life. Amongst doctors and their families he was in great demand as a physician.

At the College he was an examiner from 1957 to 1960 and in 1963 he gave the Langdon-Brown Lecture. He was no committee man and loathed administration.

One of his hobbies was bird watching which he took up during the phases of inactivity during the war. He rapidly became most knowledgeable about the subject with no apparent effort. It was the same with his medicine - right from his student days he never appeared to be studious. He was fond of all games and played golf with enthusiasm until the last. He was also a keen and useful bridge player. He was known as Reg or Reggie by his many friends of all ages and one always felt better in his company; one of his colleagues described him as a ‘life enhancing man’.

In 1941 he married Dorothy MacLeod Manning, daughter of Charles Manning, a Toronto banker; they had one son and two daughters. The son is a physician, a Collegiate Member of the College.

JWD Bull

[Lancet, 1, 497]

(Volume VI, page 354)

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