Lives of the fellows

Christopher Strang

b.29 October 1919 d.21 November 2003
MB BS Durham(1941) MRCP(1947) MD(1949) FRCP(1965)

Described by a ward sister on his retirement as "one of the last of the gentleman physicians", Christopher Strang was for over 30 years a role model for medical students and young doctors at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne medical school. 'Christo', as he was universally known, was born in East Kilbride, Scotland. During his childhood, his family moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where he was educated at the Royal Grammar School. He went on to Durham University, and spent his student and early postgraduate clinical years at the Royal Victoria Infirmary. He qualified in 1941.

While on war service as a surgeon lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, he contracted tuberculosis and spent two years in a sanatorium. This gave him a lifelong understanding of being a patient, an experience that underpinned the unfailing kindness and courtesy of his 'bedside manner'. It also awakened his interest in chest diseases, and he worked as a house physician at the Brompton Hospital, before returning to Newcastle.

Having gained his membership of the College in 1947 and a Durham MD in 1949, he became consultant physician at Newcastle General Hospital in 1952 and for ten years was also on the staff of the Wansbeck hospitals. He was elected to the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland and was also a keen member of the Thoracic Society. He became a Fellow of the College in 1965.

He was an outstanding clinical teacher and mentor to clinical students and a loyal and supportive colleague to younger doctors. In his part-time private practice he became highly respected as a 'doctor's doctor', to whom colleagues would take their personal health problems. He was truly a generalist, widely and wisely read in medicine. His early research papers included a study of the fate of children with bronchiectasis and a review of what was then known as the Looser-Milkman syndrome, concluding, correctly, that it was oesteomalacia.

Neither of Christo's parents was medically qualified, but his sister Elspeth became a psychiatrist and his brother Leonard was professor of paediatrics at University College London. In 1947 Christo married Marie Hart, whom he met when he was in the RNVR and she was serving in the Women's Royal Naval Service. They had two sons, one of them a general practitioner, and two daughters, the younger dying in early adult life.

John Grimley Evans

[Brit.med.J., 2004,328,232]

(Volume XI, page 559)

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