Lives of the fellows

Peter Cardwell Elmes

b.12 October 1921 d.19 November 2003
BM BCh Oxon(1945) MD Western Reserve(1947) MRCP(1951) FRCP(1967) FFOM(1981)

Peter Cardwell Elmes was director of the Medical Research Council’s pneumoconiosis research unit at Llandough Hospital, south Wales. He was born in Hemyock, Devon. His father, Florence Romaine Elmes, was a landowner. His mother, Lilian Bryham née Cardwell, was the daughter of a brewer. He was educated at Naish House, Burnham-on-sea, Somerset, and then Rugby. He went on to Oxford, qualifying in 1945. He spent part of the war in the US, gaining an MD from Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. He held house posts at Hammersmith Hospital during 1945, and then served in the RAMC from 1946 to 1948.

In 1949, he was a senior house officer at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford. From 1951 to 1958, he was a registrar, a senior registrar and a tutor at Hammersmith Hospital, London, spending 1952 to 1955 as an MRC research fellow studying DNA in sputum. In 1958 he was appointed as a lecturer in therapeutics at Queen’s University, Belfast, and as a consultant physician at Belfast City Hospital and Royal Victoria Hospital. He subsequently became a senior lecturer, then, in 1964, a reader and finally Whitla professor of therapeutics and pharmacology at Queen’s University. In Belfast, he continued important studies on cross infection in hospital wards, bacterial resistance to antibiotics and the effects of cigarette smoke on lung pathology. His survey of Belfast shipworkers also confirmed studies showing exposure to asbestos caused mesothelioma.

In 1976 he became director of the MRC pneumonconiosis unit in south Wales, where he led research into asbestos-like minerals and industrial dust-induced diseases.

In 1957 he married Margaret Elizabeth Staley. They had a daughter and two sons.

RCP editor

[Brit.med.J.,2004 328 352]

(Volume XII, page web)

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