Lives of the fellows

Adair Stuart Mason

b.9 December 1919 d.25 August 2003
MB BChir Cantab(1943) MRCS LRCP(1943) MRCP(1948) MD(1952) FRCP(1965)

Stuart Mason, as he was always called, was a thoughtful and quiet, but not too quiet, man who had many talents and wide interests. No doubt these qualities were developed and enhanced during his schooling at Winchester College and his subsequent education at Caius College, Cambridge. He was deeply interested in history, particularly land tenure in the Middle Ages, in cartography and in general medicine, an interest which later focused on endocrinology.

For his clinical training he went to the London Hospital, where he was influenced by two outstanding teachers, Sir Donald Hunter [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.288] and Clifford Wilson [Munk's Roll, Vol.X, p.524], the latter encouraging him in the emerging specialty of endocrinology, a subject he took to with a refreshingly open mind. Soon after qualifying, he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps as a general medical specialist in India, an experience he put to good use and which increased his knowledge of medicine in general and also of Indian culture and philosophy. After the war, he returned to the London Hospital and became an assistant on the professorial unit and a consultant physician at St George's in the East and New End Hospital in Hampstead. Further specialisation in endocrinology led to him becoming a consultant endocrinologist at Oldchurch Hospital in Romford and at the London Hospital.

He was co-editor of 16th to 18th editions of Hutchinson's widely read and popular book Clinical methods. His early papers were concerned with radio-iodine in the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders, and with Cushing's syndrome and its treatment by adrenalectomy. In addition to papers published mainly in The Lancet, he authored an Introduction to clinical endocrinology (Oxford, Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1957) and Endocrinology (London, Staples Press, 1963). For Penguin he wrote Health and hormones (London, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1960) and Hormones and the body (London, Harmondsworth, 1976). With the emergence of growth hormone, he became secretary to the human growth hormone committee of the Medical Research Council.

He was a prime mover in establishing the Thyroid Club, which met during the winter months at an Italian restaurant in Soho and later became the British Thyroid Association, the endocrine section of the Royal Society of Medicine, of which he became president, and the Society for Endocrinology, being the organising secretary of the Second International Congress of Endocrinology held in London in 1964.

In 1943, he married Rosemary, who had medicine in her blood, being the daughter of a surgeon in the Indian Medical Service and herself a radiographer. Both were avid readers, enthusiastic and skilled players of bridge and enjoyed walking and country pursuits, including horse racing. They had one daughter and three sons.

Stuart's greatest commitment and contribution came when he was invited by Max Rosenheim [Munk's Roll, Vol.VI, p.394], then President of the College, to initiate a quarterly journal. This was a long overdue venture and Stuart was responsible for designing the journal, supervising its lay out, style and printing, and selecting its contents. With the help of the late Susan Ryland, he was immensely successful in this task. From 1966 onwards, each issue started with an editorial column of comment by him, the editor, outlining what had been happening or would happen at the College, followed by the publication of what were often eponymous lectures given at the College and which might otherwise not have seen the light of day. This formula proved immensely successful and continues to this day. The journal has a wide circulation and is read extensively in this country and abroad.

Stuart's wide interests brought him to study the silver at the College, on which he became an expert. He also researched the activities of an eighteenth century bedell of the College, George Edwards, and in 1992 published an account of how this man, who was also a naturalist and artist, became a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1990 the Essex Records Office published his book Essex on the map.

Stuart Mason has left his mark, not ostentatiously, but by virtue of his quiet, scholarly, ever-thoughtful assessment of manners, men and medicine.

Sir Richard Bayliss

[Brit.med.J., 2003,327,1230; The Independent 30 Aug 2003]

(Volume XI, page 381)

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