Lives of the fellows

Victor Wynn

b.12 October 1920 d.6 October 2006
MB BS Melb(1944) MD(1953) MRCPath(1964) MRCP(1967) FRCPath(1967) FRCP(1974)

Victor Wynn was professor of human metabolism at London University, and a pioneer in the development of metabolic studies of heart disease. He was born in Melbourne, Australia. His father, Samuel Wynn, was a wine grower; his mother, Eva Wynn née Silman, was the daughter of a merchant. He was educated at Wesley College and then went on to study medicine at Melbourne University, qualifying MB BS in 1944.

He held house physician and house surgeon posts at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and then became a regimental medical officer, with the rank of captain, in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps.

He was demobilised in 1948 and was appointed as a research fellow in the department of physiology at Melbourne University. Two years later, he was awarded a Nuffield fellowship to carry out research at St Mary’s Hospital in London. He subsequently became a junior lecturer in surgery there, a senior lecturer, a reader in human metabolism (in 1960), director of the Alexander Simpson Laboratory for Metabolic Research (in 1965) and, from 1969, professor of human metabolism.

Wynn was one of the first to realise the importance of electrolyte measurement, now a crucial aspect of post-surgical care and essential in the treatment of kidney failure. Later he cautioned against the use of anabolic steroids, demonstrating their side effects. He also undertook the first large scale studies of the effects of the contraceptive pill on sugar and fat metabolism, observing an increased risk of heart disease. His findings, published in 1966, caused widespread public disquiet at the time. In the 1970s, he urged cardiologists to monitor their patients’ cholesterol levels.

He was also a consultant to the Royal Air Force (from 1963), British Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority.

He was a skilled fundraiser. He established two charities – the Heart Disease and Diabetes Research Trust and the Atherosclerosis Research Institute – which contributed over £15 million to research.

Once he had retired from St Mary’s he founded the Cavendish Institute (later renamed the Wynn Institute for Metabolic Research), now affiliated to Imperial College. In 2001 the Wynn department of metabolic cardiology was opened at the Baker Heart Research Institute, Melbourne.

In 1947 he married Marianne Lappe. They had one daughter, Nicola.

RCP editor

[, 2007 334 430; Med J Aust 2007; 186(11): 573; The Times 6 December 2006]

(Volume XII, page web)

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