Lives of the fellows

James Henry Hale

b.21 January 1917 d.16 October 2012
OBE(1959) MB ChB Birm(1940) MD(1951) MRCP(1955) FRCPath(1964) FRCP(1973)

James Henry Hale was director of the regional public health laboratory in Newcastle upon Tyne. He was born in Birmingham during the First World War, the son of Charles Sidney Hale, an engineer, and Gladys Winifred Hale née Robins, the daughter of a farmer. As a child he was interested in chemistry and set up his own laboratory at home. He was educated at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, and then went on to study medicine in the city.

He qualified in 1940 and was briefly a house physician at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. He then went into the bacteriology department at the hospital, but was only there for three months before he joined the RAMC as a pathologist and was posted to West Africa. Two years later, in 1943, the Medical Research Council obtained his release from the Army and he was posted to Sheffield University to work with Wilson Smith [Munk’s Roll, Vol.V, p.385] on bacteriological problems in the military.

At the end of the war Smith went to University College Hospital, and Hale went with him as a senior lecturer. In London he worked on flu viruses and porphyrin synthesis.

In 1952 he was appointed as head of the department of bacteriology at the University of Malaya. By late 1953 his virus lab was made the World Health Organization’s regional laboratory for the South East Asia area, and he became the director. His research work focused in particular on poliomyelitis, encephalitis and flu. During an outbreak of polio in the early 1950s, Hale successfully campaigned to have the anti-polio Sabin vaccine distributed in Singapore, which he described in a paper in the British Medical Journal (‘Large-scale use of Sabin type 2 attenuated poliovirus vaccine in Singapore during a type 1 poliomyelitis epidemic’ Br Med J 1959 1 1541).

He was awarded an OBE in 1959, and in the same year returned to the UK, to Newcastle, where he became director of the regional public health laboratory service.

Outside medicine he listed sailing (offshore racing), golf and skiing as his interests when he gained his fellowship of the RCP in 1973.

In 1964 he married Sheila Mary Cameron, the daughter of the chairman of a paint manufacturing company. They had one son.

RCP editor

[The Straits Times 9 January 1959]

(Volume XII, page web)

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