Lives of the fellows

Sheila Theodora Elsie Callender

b.5 April 1914 d.17 August 2004
BSc St Andrews MB ChB(1938) MD(1944) MRCP(1944) FRCP(1962) DSc Oxon(1970)

As a researcher in Oxford, Sheila Callender helped establish haematology in the period following the Second World War. She was born in Sidcup, Kent, the youngest of four children of Thomas Marshall Callender, a general practitioner and surgeon, and his wife, Charlotte Elizabeth Marie Rose née Hoysted. She was educated at Godolphin School in Salisbury, and then went on to St Andrews University, graduating in 1938 with a commendation and gold medal. She held house posts at Dundee Royal Infirmary.

From 1940 to 1942, she was an assistant in pathology and medical officer to the Blood Transfusion Service, St Andrews University and the east of Scotland. She then went to Oxford, initially for six months as a house officer to Leslie Witts [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.618], and then as a research assistant for four years, to October 1946. During this period she gained her MD for her work on anaemia in pregnancy, again winning a gold medal. From October 1946 to January 1948 she was in St Louis, USA, on a Rockefeller research fellowship, working with the distinguished haematologist Carl Moore. She then returned to Oxford, where she spent the remainder of her career, first as May reader in medicine, then as first assistant in the Nuffield department of medicine, later as clinical reader and consultant physician to the United Oxford Hospitals.

Among the many contributions she made during her long career, with Rob Race [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VIII, p.403] she established the Lutheran and Willis blood groups. She was among the first to accurately determine the lifespan of red blood cells, and made a number of observations on the abnormalities of iron absorption in several diseases. When the Medical Research Council’s leukaemia trials committee was set up, she played a key role in helping to develop some of the early studies of drug regimes for the management of the disease.

In 1957 she married Ivan Monostori, a Hungarian student who had gone to Oxford as a refugee. They had no children. She died from leukaemia at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

RCP editor

[The Times 15 September 2004; Brit.med.J. 2004 329 860; D J Weatherall, ‘Callender, Sheila Theodora Elsie (1914-2004)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Jan 2008 www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/93866 – accessed 22 February 2011]

(Volume XII, page web)

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