Lives of the fellows

David Neale Lawson

b.21 November 1917 d.16 December 2004
BA Cantab(1939) MRCS LRCP(1942) MB BChir(1947) MRCP(1947) MD(1950) FRCP(1970)

David Neale Lawson was a consultant paediatrician at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Carshalton, Surrey, and a pioneer of research into cystic fibrosis. He was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the son of Harry Sackville Lawson, a headmaster, and Janet Kathleen née Trinder, the daughter of a ship-owner. Although no immediate members of his family were doctors, Lawson was related to John Mason Good [Munk’s Roll, Vol.III, p.248], a writer on religion, medicine and the classics, and the author of Pantologia (London, G Kearsley etc, 1813), an encyclopaedia of science. Lawson was educated at St Edmund’s School, Hindhead, Oundle, then Cambridge and St Thomas’. He qualified MRCS LRCP in 1942.

He held a post as a resident medical officer at Putney Hospital from 1942 until 1943. He then joined the Royal Navy as a surgeon lieutenant. He served on HMS Ambrose and was stationed with the 10th RAF General Hospital in Karachi and on the Royal Naval Base in Bombay.

In 1946, following his demobilisation, he joined the children’s department at St Thomas’ as a house physician. A year later, he was a registrar in the children’s department at Dundee Royal Infirmary. He then joined the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, as a medical registrar, senior registrar and then a research fellow, investigating hypothyroidism and type II nephritis.

In 1953, he was appointed as a consultant paediatrician and medical administrator at Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children, Carshalton, and later became a clinical tutor. He also held consultant posts at Epsom District Hospital and at the Royal Marsden Hospital. At Queen Mary’s, he established a pioneering specialist clinic for children with cystic fibrosis. Sarah Walters, one of his patients, who went on to become a doctor and a fellow of the RCP, first met him as a child: ‘Here was a doctor who didn’t think it was a waste of time to do blood tests and X rays, to monitor my lung function and to treat the infections in my chest. Here was a doctor who wanted the very best for me, and for all his CF patients. Here was a doctor who gave me hope.’

Lawson was one of the founders and a chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust, and secretary of the scientific/medical committee of the International Cystic Fibrosis Association, based in New York. He wrote extensively, including papers on intra-cranial neoplastic diseases of childhood, the management of coeliac disease, meningitis and on cystic fribrosis. In 1959 he went to Libya to carry out a survey of paediatric services in Benghazi and Tripoli, and to make recommendations about the long-term development of children’s services in the country as a whole.

In 1943 he married Belinda Florence née Marlow. They had three daughters, Janet, Sue and Amanda.

RCP editor

(Volume XII, page web)

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