Lives of the fellows

Granville Rex Etchell Naylor

b.24 May 1920 d.26 August 1983
MB BChir Cantab(1945) MD(1954) MRCP(1946) FRCP(1976)

Granville Naylor was the son of the headmaster of Rotherham Grammar School, at which school he received his early education before coming to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, as a scholar in 1939. After a distinguished academic career, in which he achieved a double first in the Natural Sciences Tripos, he was awarded a Rockefeller scholarship to enable him to do his clinical studies at Cornell Medical College, New York. He was a medical intern at the New York Hospital in 1944 before returning to England to the Middlesex Hospital, where he was a house physician and casualty officer before coming to Cambridge as a demonstrator in pathology, and being appointed an official fellow of his old College, taking over the supervision in pathology of the College medical students. At once he showed that he was a superb teacher and this, coupled with his charming personality and genuine interest in his pupils, made him many lifelong friends. In the laboratory he was an excellent and meticulous research worker, and in cooperation with Muriel Adair he did much original work on the precipitation reaction.

In 1950 he was called up for his military service, and as a major in the RAMC was sent to Fayid in Egypt as the enteric officer to the Middle East Land Forces. Rex Naylor, as he was known to his many army friends, soon made a great reputation both as a scientific investigator and particularly for his personal friendly qualities. There had been substantial outbreaks of typhoid and paratyphoid fever amongst the service personnel in the Suez Canal Zone which he traced to urinary carriers amongst food handlers, and — of great importance - he was able to show a relationship between these carriers and schistosomiasis of the bladder. So started his lifelong interest in enteric fevers, on which his thesis for the Cambridge MD was based. On leaving the army in 1951 he returned to Cambridge as a lecturer in pathology.

In 1963 RM Fry retired as director of the Cambridge Public Health Laboratory and Granville Naylor was elected to follow him. A happy choice, for his outstanding capacity for making friends enabled him to continue the excellent relationship that Fry had established between the laboratory and the doctors in the area. He also had to organize the move of the laboratory from the University site to the new Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and the development of a single laboratory with the hospital microbiology laboratory. It was greatly to Naylor’s credit that difficulties which might have occurred were avoided.

In 1975 coeliac disease, from which he had suffered all his life, became very much worse, and after a year away from the laboratory he resigned the directorship on medical grounds, and returned as lecturer to the University department, but unfortunately only for a short period.

In spite of his deteriorating health he threw himself energetically into his many hobbies. He was a craftsman in wood-working and the repair of antique furniture. In retirement he started a collection of ancient tools, and went to classes to learn book-binding. He was meticulous in all he did, as was shown when shortly before his death he was asked to audit the College silver. He set himself the task of becoming an expert in old silver, and made a complete inventory of the precise details of all the silver.

He was survived by his wife Nathalie whom he met as a fellow student while doing his clinical work at Cornell; she was the daughter of a New York doctor. They had two daughters and a son.

RIN Greaves

[, 1983, 287, 1230; Lancet, 1983, 2, 862]

(Volume VII, page 424)

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