Lives of the fellows

Sydney Wentworth Patterson

b.22 April 1882 d.4 May 1960
MB BS Melb(1904) MD Melb(1907) DSc Lond(1916) MRCP(1926) FRCP (1933)

Sydney Patterson, who was always proud to consider himself ‘a good Australian’, was born in Melbourne, the son of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth (née Thomson) Patterson. For a time he was in general practice, but came to London in 1912 to work at University College under Professor E. H. Starling with whom he published (J. Physiol. (Lond.), 1914, 47, 137-48, 381-8; 48, 357-79,465-513) important work on cardiac output, heart rate and diabetes while holding a Beit memorial fellowship. It was for this work he obtained his D.Sc, in 1916. When war broke out he went to France with the Australian Voluntary Medical Service, later taken over by the R.A.M.C., and in 1918 was an area pathologist at the base hospital in Rouen with the rank of major.

In 1919 he went back to Australia for four years as director of the Eliza Hall Research Institute, and on his return to Britain was appointed physician at Ruthin Castle, where he became chief physician in 1944. When the National Health Act came into force in 1948 Patterson became an honorary physician to the Welsh Regional Hospital Board. During his thirty-five years at Ruthin Castle he did much work with Sir Edmund Spriggs in gastroenterological research, and in some of the radiological and biochemical work it involved he was associated with Sir Arthur Hurst.

His industry was phenomenal; his friends never understood how he found the energy to add to his research administrative and financial responsibilities, take interest in the British Society of Gastroenterology, of which he was president in 1954, and in the B.M.A, of which he was president of the Wales branch in 1936-7, and yet have time for writing, and the hobbies of music, gardening, agriculture and the archaeology of Norman castles. Understanding and sympathetic, he was always willing to discuss an interesting physiological problem with a consultant colleague or a junior general practitioner. At the College he was Bradshaw lecturer in 1941, but owing to the War the lectures were not delivered.

In 1920 he married Muriel, daughter of Professor Starling. They had four daughters and one son, who became a plastic surgeon.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.med.J., 19, 60, 1, 1575;Lancet, 1960, 1, 1080; Times, 10 May 1960.]

(Volume V, page 323)

<< Back to List