b.10 August 1924 d.19 June 2010
MB BS Lond(1948) MD(1962) MRCP(1956) FRCP(1973)
Archibald John Popert (‘John’) was a consultant physician in Worcester. Born in Parkend, Gloucestershire, he was the son of Archibald Harry Propert, a conservator of forests for the Forestry Commission, and his wife, Margery Butler née Allen, whose father, Ernest, was a stockbroker. Educated at Shrewsbury School, he studied medicine at London University and St Bartholomew’s Hospital (Bart’s). He qualified in 1948 and after house jobs at Bart’s and then at Redhill County Hospital, he joined the RAF in 1949 to do his National Service. He served for two years in Egypt and the Sudan.
On returning to Barts when he was demobilised in 1951, he became demonstrator of applied pharmacology for three years. Following this he was a research registrar in the rheumatism department of the West London Hospital from 1954 to 1957. He then moved to Manchester where the first British chair of rheumatology had been established in 1953. A lecturer in rheumatology at the University, he also became, in 1962, assistant director of the clinical section of the rheumatism research department and honorary consultant physician to the Manchester Royal Infirmary. Two years later he was appointed consultant physician to the Worcester Royal Infirmary and Droitwich Centre for Rheumatic Diseases and consultant rheumatologist to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham.
Having observed at first hand the terrible effects of the prevailing treatment of rheumatoid arthritis which was, basically, aspirin, he determined to find a solution to joint preservation. While he was at Droitwich in the 1960s he developed aggressive combination protocols to induce remission. Considered maverick, his methods were not popular at the time but, 50 years later, the combination therapy he developed is widely used by others in the specialty and sanctioned by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.
In 1962 he had received the Empire Rheumatism Council’s (now Arthritis Research UK) senior travelling fellowship. The author of several scientific papers, chiefly on rheumatic disorders, he also contributed a chapter on gold and anti-malarials to A G S Hill (ed) Modern trends in rheumatology (London, Butterworth, 1966).
He was senior honorary secretary to the Heberden Society in 1968 and president of the Midland Rheumatology Society in 1973. From 1965 onwards, he was chairman of the Droitwich Hospitals Medical Staff Committee
Outside of medicine, he enjoyed rifle shooting, gardening and golf. He was also an accomplished amateur archaeologist.
In 1953 he married Mary née Lynch, whose father, Jeremiah was a farmer. They had two sons and three daughters. Mary survived him, although by then she was severely disabled, together with their family including a son, Richard, who is a urological surgeon, and 17 grandchildren.
[BMJ 2011 343 5983 www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d5983 - accessed 4 May 2015]
(Volume XII, page web)
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