Lives of the fellows

Simon John Boniface

b.13 June 1959 d.27 November 2003
BSc Lond(1980) MB BS Lond(1983) MRCP(1986) MRCOphth(1989) MD(1991) MA Cantab(1998) FRCP(1999)

Simon Boniface was a consultant neurophysiologist at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, from 1985 until his tragic death from a nocturnal seizure. At an early age he set his heart on becoming a doctor and fulfilled his dream by obtaining a place at University College Hospital, London, where he was attracted to neuroscience as a career by the mentorship of Semir Zeki, who remained a guiding influence and friend. He obtained many prizes and graduated with honours.

After graduating, he undertook postgraduate training in medicine, ophthalmology and neurology, and settled on a career in clinical neurophysiology, which combined his academic and clinical skills. He obtained a prestigious MRC training fellowship based at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, and undertook an MD on the new and expanding topic of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), making important contributions to the understanding of motor physiology in both normal and diseased states. This work was undertaken under the supervision of Kerry Mills.

In 1995, he was appointed to the first full-time position in clinical neurophysiology at Addenbrooke's Hospital. Although burdened by a considerable clinical workload, he managed to expand and develop the department. He was particularly proud of the acquisition of two specialist registrars, one of whom has recently been appointed to the second consultant neurophysiology post in the department. He continued his academic interests and forged strong collaborative links with members of the Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre. He published a string of important papers on neurophysiology, TMS and cerebral plasticity. In 2003 he co-edited a book Plasticity in the human nervous system - investigations with transcranial magnetic stimulation with Ulf Ziemann, published by the Cambridge University Press, and played an active role in the Academy of Medical Sciences' report on neurorehabilitation.

As a colleague he was highly respected for his clinical opinion and admired for his mentorship of juniors. No enquiry was too much trouble. He was a popular teacher and fostered a happy and productive clinical department.

Work, was, however, only one facet of his very full life. He was dedicated to his family and friends, and managed to maintain a wide range of outside interests including music, modern art and water sports. Recently separated from his wife Maria, he remained close to his three children, Kate, Laura and Michael.

John Hodges

(Volume XI, page 68)

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