Lives of the fellows

John Forest Smith

b.13 October 1893 d.3 August 1973
MRCS LRCP(1916) MRCP(1925) FRCP(1931)

John Forest Smith received his medical education at St Thomas’s Hospital, qualifying with the Conjoint in 1916. After house appointments at St Thomas’s, he was awarded the John and Temple research fellowship in 1922. He took the MRCP in 1925, was appointed to the staff of St Thomas’s in 1928, and elected a Fellow of the College in 1931.

Forest Smith became interested in diseases of children at an early stage in his career. He was a pupil of C.R. Box, who was responsible for the first outpatients clinic for children at St Thomas’s Hospital. After the first world war, when paediatrics became a full time specialty in the London teaching hospitals, St Thomas’s appointed R.C.Jewesbury as physician to the children’s department, and Forest Smith was appointed children’s house physician in 1920. He succeeded R.C. Jewesbury when the latter retired in 1938. In association with his colleagues Professor Hugh Maclean, Dr.H. Gardinar-Hill and others, he wrote papers on pituitary obesity in adolescence; a clinical and metabolic study in obesity; carbohydrate tolerance in myxodema, and factors of significance in adolescent goitre. In collaboration with Donald Paterson, he published Modern Methods of Feeding in Infancy and Childhood, which ran into nine editions and then continued as ‘Paterson and Newns’. Forest Smith was the last of C.R.Box’s students to serve on the active staff of St Thomas’s and completed 30 years as a consultant physician, 20 of which were spent in charge of the children’s department. He served on the board of governors of the hospital, and after his retirement in 1958 he was reappointed to the board for a further period.

Forest Smith was president of the British Paediatric Association at the time of his retirement from active service, and he continued to be a member of its council with an undiminished interest in its activities. For over 20 years he also served as physician to the Grosvenor Hospital for Women, and served on the maternity services committee formed to keep under review this section of the National Health Service.

His devotion to his hospital was only equalled by his work for the medical school, which he served through the second world war and after as clinical dean and sub-dean until 1956. He was chairman of the library committee from 1946-1955. He was also a lecturer to the medical school for many years and continued to serve on the school council after his retirement.

Forest Smith served as a Censor for the College in 1948 and 1949, and as Senior Censor in 1950. He was also an examiner from 1935-1939. In 1954 he gave the Croonian Lecture on Nutrition and Child Health. From 1953-1960 he represented the College on the Committee of Management of the Conjoint Board. He also examined for Birmingham University.

‘Forest’, as he was affectionately known, was an amusing raconteur with an endless supply of good stories. He had a strong personality, and combined all the virtues of a good clinician with an excellent memory for cases and literature. His hobby was the keeping of tropical fish, which gave him great pleasure in a busy life. He was married and had one daughter.

Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
V Luniewska

[Brit.med.J., 1973, 3, 459; Times, 15 Aug 1973]

(Volume VI, page 409)

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