Lives of the fellows

Maurice Anthony Cowan

b.11 March 1932 d.17 January 2015
MB ChB Sheffield(1954) MRCS LRCP(1954) MRCP(1958) MD(1965) FRCP(1978)

Maurice Anthony (‘Tony’) Cowan was a consultant dermatologist in Birmingham. He was born in Sheffield, the eldest of three children. His father, Sydney Cowan, was a plumbing and heating contractor. Tony attended High Storrs Grammar School and then went on to Sheffield University to study medicine. He qualified MB ChB in 1954 with a bronze medal and the Kaye prize, and also gained the conjoint diploma. He was awarded the Begley prize in his MRCS examination.

After his first two house posts, he decided to do his National Service in the RAMC. In later life, when asked when he first became interested in dermatology, he said ‘in the Army’. Apparently at his first interview, when he was asked which specialty he was most interested in, he had said surgery, but was sent to the medical ward. It was there he became involved with dermatology and later became a captain and a clinical officer in dermatology.

On demobilisation he held two posts in Sheffield, as a registrar in medicine and then in dermatology, and went on to become a senior registrar in dermatology for the United Oxford Hospitals.

From 1962 to 1963 he went as a post-doctoral research fellow to the department of dermatology, University of Oregon Medical School in Portland, USA. He enjoyed Portland and made many friends. I went over to join him and we were married in 1963.

On our return to the UK in 1964 he was appointed as a senior registrar at St John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin in London. After only four months he was appointed as a consultant to the Birmingham Regional Hospital Board and then, in 1966, as a consultant to the United Birmingham Hospitals (Teaching) and Birmingham Regional Hospital Board. He was also a senior lecturer in dermatology and honorary lecturer in experimental pathology to the University of Birmingham.

On starting this appointment he spent a year at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington DC, in the skin and gastrointestinal branch under Elson B Helwig. He was given a certificate of attendance and elected an honorary member of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States in November 1966. In 1967 we returned to Birmingham.

He then served until his retirement as a consultant dermatologist to Birmingham General Hospital, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. From 1968 he was a member of the DHSS consultant panel.

He was a skilled clinician and good with patients. Over the years he was a widely respected specialist in his field and presented papers on research findings and clinical observations, and wrote or was a co-author of many articles.

In his retirement he became a keen and knowledgeable gardener and bridge proved an absorbing pastime. We enjoyed travelling and visited a wide variety of countries.

Margaret Cowan

(Volume XII, page web)

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