Lives of the fellows

Michael de Burgh Daly

b.7 May 1922 d.1 March 2002
BA Cantab(1944) MB BChir(1947) ScD(1960) MD(1963) MRCP(1972) FRCP(1978)

Michael de Burgh Daly was professor of physiology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College, London, from 1958 to 1984. He was born in York, the son of the distinguished physiologist Ivan de Burgh Daly [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.135] and his wife, Beatrice Mary (Molly) née Leetham. Michael was educated at Loretto School, Edinburgh. He then went on to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, for his clinical studies. In 1947, he became a house physician at Bart’s.

His first post in physiology was at University College, London, where he was appointed as an assistant lecturer and then lecturer. In 1952, he was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation travelling fellowship in medicine. He then joined the department of physiology at University College as a Locke research fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1958, at the age of just 36, he was appointed to the chair of physiology at Bart’s Medical College and head of the department – a position he held until his retirement in 1984 at the age of 62. He then moved to the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, to the department of physiology, where he was to stay for the next 18 years.

He served on many committees, including the ethical committee at Bart’s. He was a member of the personal research ethical committee of the Ministry of Defence (Navy) from 1975, becoming chairman in 1990.

Influenced by his father, who was an expert on the pulmonary circulation, Michael developed an early interest in the carotid body chemoreceptors and baroreceptors. Father and son published several papers together in The Journal of Physiology, in 1957, 1958 and 1959. Michael went on to write Peripheral arterial chemoreceptors and respiratory-cardiovascular integration (Oxford, Clarendon, 1997). He contributed to chapters in textbooks, and was co-editor of The Journal of Physiology from 1956 to 1964 and 1984 to 1989. He was an active member of the Physiological Society, frequently attended meetings and served on its committee. He was made an honorary member in 1986. He was a member of the Society for Experimental Biology and a member of the European Undersea Biomedical Society from 1971.

During his career he received many prizes, including the Schafer prize in physiology from University College London in 1953, the Thurston medal of Gonville and Caius College in 1957 and the Sir Lionel Whitby medal of Cambridge University in 1963.

In 1948 he married Beryl Esmé, the daughter of Wing Commander A J Nightingale, whom he had met when she was a nurse at Bart’s. They had two sons. After his death, the Physiological Society established a prize lecture named in his memory.

RCP editor

[Physiology News, Issue 50, Spring 2003, p.39-41, www.physoc.org/uploadedfiles/documentlibrary/319.pdf – accessed 27 May 2010]

(Volume XII, page web)

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