Lives of the fellows

Anthony Michael Jelliffe

b.29 July 1923 d.6 April 2008
MB BS Lond(1945) MRCP(1946) DCH(1946) MD(1947) DMRT(1953) FFR(1955) FRCP(1970)

Anthony Michael Jelliffe (‘Tony’) was director of the Meyerstein Institute of Radiotherapy and Oncology at Middlesex Hospital, London. Born in Sliema, Malta, he was the second of the three sons of Reginald Eric Victor Jelliffe (known to all as ‘Jelly’), a director of Naval stores for the Admiralty, and his wife, Dorothy Marjory née Hebb, whose father was a major in the Army. His brother Derrick was also an FRCP [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IX, p.271]. Educated at the Merchant Taylor’s School, he studied medicine at London University and the Middlesex Hospital. He later described the challenging experience of revising for his exams while sitting on the hospital roof with a stirrup pump in order to extinguish incendiary bombs during the Blitz.

After qualifying in 1945, he did house jobs at Mount Vernon Hospital, St Helier Hospital, the Middlesex and, finally in 1946, the Brompton Chest Hospital where he recalled that his salary as a junior doctor was paid by petty cash slips. In 1948 he was appointed a senior registrar at the Middlesex and began to increasingly specialise in cancer therapy, particularly using the recently introduced alkylating agents and corticosteroids. Possibly the death of his mother from breast cancer at the early age of 38 may have influenced his choice of specialty.

In 1956 he was appointed a consultant radiotherapist to the Middlesex and Mount Vernon hospitals, and the Northwood and Hendon group of hospitals. Mount Vernon installed the first radiocobalt teletherapy unit in the country, followed by a 4 million volt linear accelerator which provided him with invaluable experience in supervoltage irradiation. He was appointed director of the Meyerstein Institute of Radiotherapy and Oncology in 1981 and remained in post until his retirement from the NHS 7 years later.

He was a member of the British Institute of Radiology, the British Association for Cancer Research, the European Association of Radiology and the Sociedad Espanola de Radiologia. He examined for the DMRT and FRCR, and was a council member and vice president of the Royal College of Radiologists. Also a member of the Royal Society of Medicine, it was said that their library was his second home, particularly after retirement, and he only stopped visiting a year before his death.

His research output was prodigious, publishing over 100 scientific papers and books mainly on cancer therapy through radiation and chemotherapy. Among them were, jointly edited by John Marks, Natulan (Ibebenzmethyzin) (Bristol, Wright, 1965), ‘Hodgkin’s disease: the pendulum swings. Knox lecture, Royal College of Radiologists, 1977.’ (Clin radiol, 1979, 30, 121-37) and, more recently, chapters in Cassidy, J et al, ed. Oxford Handbook of Oncology (Oxford, OUP, 2002) and a work on medical negligence. From 1958 to 1969, he was assistant editor, then editor, of Clinical radiology.

Outside medicine, he enjoyed playing tennis and attending football matches.

In 1950 he married Joan née Chapman, whose father, Clarence Herbert, had died at the end of the First World War. She was a physiotherapist whom he met when he was involved with the annual Christmas concert at the Middlesex – she was the pianist. Their involvement with the production continued for many years. They had two sons, Christopher (now medically qualified) and Stephen. After 20 years his marriage ended and he began a relationship with Ula Bienenstock (described as his ‘partner and soul mate’), a retired dentist, who predeceased him in 2003.

Unable to totally retire, he continued his relationship with the British National Lymphoma Investigation, which he had founded in 1970 and directed for 15 years. He also continued to examine and report on some 20 medicolegal cases a year. When he died of bronchopneumonia and heart failure, he was survived by his sons and two grandchildren.

RCP editor

[BMJ, 2008 336 1255]

(Volume XII, page web)

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