Lives of the fellows

Léon Cudkowicz

b.18 January 1923 d.22 August 2012
MB BS Lond(1946) MD(1951) MRCP(1954) FRCP(1973) FACP

Léon Cudkowicz was professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio. Born in Lodz, Poland, he was the son of Mauryce Cudkowicz, a businessman and his wife, Masza née Mazynski, whose father, Léon, was a banker and merchant. Educated initially at the Pestalozzi School in Chemmir, Germany, he also studied at gymnasiums in Poland and Germany. In 1938 he immigrated to the UK and enrolled at Birkbeck College. He studied medicine at London University and King's College Hospital (KCH) and qualified in 1947.

The following year he enlisted with the RAMC and served as a captain at Wheatley Military Hospital near Oxford from 1946 to 1949. On demobilisation he returned to KCH, where he gained his MD in 1951, winning the Sir Charlton Briscoe Prize for his thesis on the bronchial circulation in man, a subject which was to preoccupy him throughout his future career to the point where he eventually published a book The human bronchial circulation in health and disease (Baltimore, Williams and Wilkins, 1968).

He did house jobs at St Thomas’ Hospital from 1953 to 1956 and then moved to the USA, where he was awarded the James Hudson research fellowship in medicine at Yale University from 1957 to 1958. After that he trained at Harvard on a similar fellowship. Appointed associate professor of medicine at Dalhousie University and consultant physician at the Victoria General Hospital, Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada, he stayed there for 10 years, taking a year's sabbatical with the Instituto Boliviano de Biologia Altura in La Paz, Bolivia from 1967 to 1968. There he carried out research on the effects of altitude and he was to return there several times to continue the work throughout his career. While there he also carried out clinical work and, having carried out the first cardiac catheterisation of a child in Bolivia, was made an honorary member of the Bolivian Pediatric Society and an honorary consultant in cardiology at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés in La Paz.

Joining the staff of Thomas Jefferson University Medical College in Philadelphia as a full professor in 1969, he also became chief of cardio-pulmonary services. He went to Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, six years later and held the chair of cardiology until 1977. Moving to the Middle East, he was appointed chairman and professor and director of clinical services at King Faisal University in Damman, Saudi Arabia in 1978. He returned to the USA in 1981 as professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati, where he remained until his retirement in 1992.

A prolific writer, he contributed chapters on pulmonary disorders to several standard textbooks and published over 107 scientific papers. He won a number of awards for his work, including a fellowship in high altitude research from the Organization of American States, the fellowship of the American College of Chest Physicians and of the Royal Society of Medicine.

He loved mountains and took advantage of his visits to the Andes to do some climbing. An enthusiastic sailor, he owned a 15ft ocean-going dinghy. Other passions were literature and music.

In 1949 he married Margaret Raimes née Chandler, whose father, Frederick George Chandler [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IV, p.598] was a physician and also an expert in chest diseases. They had two children, Alexander Raimes and Penelope Claire. After his first marriage ended, he married Teresa whose family came from Bolivia. When he died, she survived him together with his son and family (wife, Kathy née Cottrell and children, Erica, Bruce and Gwendolyn) and daughter who was married to Ted Norris and had a daughter, Jessica.

RCP editor

[American Physiological Society Obituaries - accessed 26 October 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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