Lives of the fellows

John Parsons Shillingford

b.15 April 1914 d.16 September 1999
CBE MD Harvard(1943) MRCS LRCP(1945) MB BS(1945) MD Lond(1948) MRCP(1948) FRCP(1960) FACC(1966) Hon FACP(1974)

John Parsons Shillingford was one of the UK's leading researchers into the causes of heart disease and pioneered the introduction of coronary care units in the 1960s. He was born in London, the son of Victor Sadler Shillingford, a company director, and Ethel Eugene née Parsons, the daughter of a GP. He was educated at Bishops Stortford School and then began his medical training at the London Hospital. At the start of the second world war he won a Rockerfeller scholarship to Harvard and spent most of his clinical training in Boston. After working at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and the Presbyterian Hospital in New York, he returned to the London Hospital in 1946.

In 1950 he was recruited by Sir John McMichael [Munk's Roll, Vol. IX, p.341], who was forming research teams in medicine at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith. Shillingford's group became one of the foremost research teams in Britain, looking at the basic causes of heart failure and beginning to explore the narrowing of the arteries that takes place with ageing. He attracted researchers and helped establish the importance of engineering and biophysics in cardiovascular research. He published over 400 articles that form the basis of much of our current understanding of heart disease.

In 1968 he became president of the section of experimental medicine at the Royal Society of Medicine. In 1969 he was appointed to the chair of angiocardiography at the University of London. In the same year he was the Lumleian lecturer at the College.

In the sixties, realising that research into heart disease was underfunded, he began to put energy into the newly established British Heart Foundation. He continued to be a strong supporter of the organisation.

He married Doris Margaret ('Jill') née Franklin in 1947 and they had two sons and a daughter. At the time of his election to the Fellowship he listed sailing, photography and music among his interests.

RCP editor

[Brit.med.J., 1999,319,1438; The Times 25 Nov 1999]

(Volume XI, page 518)

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