Lives of the fellows

Stewart William Clarke

b.12 March 1936 d.28 September 2005
MB ChB Birm(1959) MRCP(1965) MD(1969) FRCP(1974)

Stewart William Clarke was a consultant physician at the Brompton and Royal Free hospitals, London, and a specialist in respiratory medicine. He was born in Heanor, Derby, the son of Albert Edward Clarke, a shopkeeper, and Elsie Jane née Parker, the daughter of a coalminer. He was educated at Nottingham High School and then studied medicine at Birmingham University, qualifying in 1959.

He immediately went to the United States, where he worked as an intern at hospitals in Washington DC. After a year he returned to the UK, where he was a senior house officer at the Royal Hospital, Wolverhampton. From 1962 to 1964, he was a registrar at the City Hospital, Derby, and then, from 1964 to 1966, at North Middlesex Hospital, London.

Between 1966 and 1969, he was a research fellow at the department of medicine at Birmingham. He then spent a year at the Cardiovascular Research Institute (CVRI) at the University of California, San Francisco. From 1970 to 1971 he was a lecturer in medicine at the University of Birmingham.

In 1971 he was appointed as a consultant physician at the Royal Free and Brompton hospitals, London. In the early 1970s, he brought fibreoptic bronchoscopy to the United Kingdom, and taught a generation of physicians this now standard technique. At the Royal Free he established a group to study airway function and aerosol deposition in the lungs. In the late 1980s he was responsible for establishing a ward for the growing numbers of AIDS patients.

Clarke was the first president and a co-founder of the European Respiratory Society (ERS). In the 1980s, he helped bring together the two then preeminent respiratory societies in Europe, the Societas Europaea Physiologiae (SEP) and the Societas Europaea Physiologiae Clinicae Respiratoriae (SEPCR). After years of discussion, an agreement was reached and the first meeting of ERS was held in London in 1990. Clarke was a member of the technical options committee on aerosols under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme in 1991.

At the Royal College of Physicians, he was an MRCP examiner (from 1979 to 1996), a pro-censor (from 1987 to 1988) and a censor (1988 to 1989). In 1989 he gave the Tudor Edwards memorial lecture on ‘Airways clearance and aerosols’. He also chaired the RCP working party that produced Smoking and the young (London, Royal College of Physicians) in 1992.

He co-edited two books – Aerosols and the lung: clinical and experimental aspects (London, Butterworth, 1984) with Demetri Pavia and Fibreoptic bronchoscopy: in diagnosis and management (London, Gower Medical, 1987) with Roland M Du Bois. Clarke was also a section editor of the European Respiratory Journal from 1985 to 1991.

Outside medicine, he was a gifted sportsman. He was a good rugby player (he was president of the Royal Free Rugby Football Club) and an exceptional squash player (he represented Worcestershire). He was also interested in music, and was an opera enthusiast.

In 1962 he married Gilliam Mary Acres, the daughter of a company chairman. They had two sons, Jon and Andrew. Clarke died from a chronic neurological disease.

RCP editor

[References:,2006 332 1158; ERS Newsletter January 2006, p.5 – accessed 25 June 2012]

(Volume XII, page web)

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