Lives of the fellows

Arthur Edward Jones

b.1 February 1919 d.4 July 1999
MRCS LRCP(1942) MB BS Lond(1943) MRCP(1945) MD(1945) DMRT(1948) FRCP(1965) FFR(1967) FRCR(1975) FRCS(1978) Hon FACR(1981)

Arthur Jones was professor of radiotherapy at St Bartholomew’s, London and a pioneer in the world of radiotherapy. Born in Denbighshire, Wales, and educated at Grove Park School, Wrexham, he attended St Bartholomew’s Medical College, winning three scholarships, an exhibition and many prizes. He went on to serve in the army, where he worked under Sir Hugh Cairns and Sir Charles Symonds [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.563] - the latter training Jones in neurology. At the end of the war, Arthur Jones had become a specialist neurologist in charge of the army’s Hamburg unit - with a particular knowledge of head injury care.

After de-mobilization, Jones returned to Bart’s where the pioneering department was radiotherapy, and he became chief assistant to Ralph Phillips. Shortly afterwards, Phillips was head-hunted to America and Jones rose rapidly through the ranks, being appointed consultant at age of only 30 and to deputy director in 1950. In 1972 Jones became director of the radiotherapy department, where he consolidated and extended clinical practice in safe curative, megavoltage radiotherapy.

His publications on radiotherapy for pituitary tumours and thyroid eye disease are perhaps his most famous contributions, although his original description of Lhermitte’s sign occurring as a subacute reaction to cervical spine radiotherapy is typical of his careful attention to detail in radiotherapeutic practice. Other important publications related to tumours of the thymus and lymphomas and their optimal treatment. Later he published normal tissue morbidity observations related to the heart, vasculature and the central nervous system.

In 1960 he became Hunterian Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons - a rare honour for a physician. In 1963 he won the Roentgen prize of the British Institute of Radiology and in 1978 the Glyn Evans medal of the Royal College of Radiologists.

His academic interests were considerable. Among his commitments, he was dean of St Bartholomew’s Medical College, chairman of the Cancer Research Committee, vice-president of the Royal College of Radiologists, a member of the council of the Royal College of Surgeons and chairman of examining board in radiotherapy. In the latter part of his career, between 1980 and 1987, Jones was under intense pressure as chairman of the MRC committee on neutron therapy. Had neutrons proved clinically useful, the cost implications for the subject would have been huge and vested interests lobbied furiously. Jones maintained his objectivity and, with his now incomparable experience of ortho- and megavoltage radiation, chaired the committee supremely - and was co-opted by the equivalent American committee.

Arthur Jones trained many of the current leading radiotherapists in the UK. A registrar early in his career might well have been called down to a treatment machine by Jones, only to find his boss on his hands and knees, looking up at the light field and the shield shadows around the orbits and base of the skull of a prone patient receiving cranio-spinal radiotherapy.

One past trainee recalls a phone call from him as he was waiting to board a plane to a neutron therapy committee meeting in America, advising him to cut by one fraction the radiotherapeutic prescription for an eyelid epithelioma. This was typical of the attention to detail for which Jones was famous.

Arthur Jones was also a very private man, eventually wanting no retirement party, nor hospital remembrance service. When providing me with his formidable CV, Carline, his wife, wrote: "It says it all, but to me he was just Arthur".

P N Plowman

(Volume XI, page 300)

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