Lives of the fellows

Francis William O'Grady

b.7 November 1925 d.20 May 2015
CBE(1984) TD(1970) BSc Lond(1947) MB BS(1950) MSc(1956) MD(1957) MRCPath(1963) MRCP(1971) FRCPath(1972) FRCP(1976) FFPM

Francis William O’Grady, known to colleagues as ‘FOG’, was professor of microbiology at the University of Nottingham and chief scientist at the Department of Health. He was born in London, the son of Francis Joseph O’Grady, an antique dealer. He attended Archbishop Tenison’s Grammar School and was then awarded a scholarship to study medicine at Middlesex Hospital Medical School, gaining a BSc in 1947 and his MB BS in 1950.

After junior posts at the Middlesex and North Middlesex hospitals, he carried out his National Service in the RAMC. He then trained in pathology at the Bland-Sutton Institute of Pathology, Middlesex Hospital. He subsequently became a junior specialist in pathology for the RAMC, before being appointed as a pathologist at the Army Chest Centre, Hindhead, Surrey. In 1956, he was appointed as a lecturer in bacteriology at Middlesex Hospital. In the same year, he gained an MSc in pharmacology and in 1957 an MD in pathology.

He then travelled to the United States, where he was chief of the air hygiene research unit and an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

In 1961, he returned to the UK as a senior lecturer at Middlesex Hospital Medical School, and within a year was promoted to a readership at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. He was appointed as professor of bacteriology in 1967.

In 1974, O’Grady was invited to become the foundation professor of microbiology at the new medical school at the University of Nottingham. At Nottingham, he was head of the joint university, NHS and Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) department, the largest in the UK at the time.

He served as a member and chair of many national committees, including for the Medical Research Council, the Department of Health and the PHLS. He retired from his chair at Nottingham in 1988, but continued as chief scientist and as a board member of the PHLS. He was awarded a CBE in 1984.

His major research interests were antibiotics, urinary tract infection and airborne infection. He edited Urinary tract infection (London, Oxford University Press, 1968), co-authored Airborne infection: transmission and control from its second to seventh editions (New York, Macmillan) and contributed to Antibiotic and chemotherapy (Edinburgh, Churchill Livingston, 1973). He was also on the editorial boards of several journals, including Reviews of Infectious Diseases, Journal of Infection, Journal of Medical Microbiology and the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Outside medicine, he enjoyed music, painting, carpentry, gardening, theatre and antiques, and had a taste for fine dining. He was a committed Roman Catholic. He served in the Territorial Army until 1972 and was awarded the Territorial Decoration in 1970.

In 1951, he married Madeleine Marie-Therese Becquart, the daughter of a barrister. They had three daughters, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

RCP editor

[BMJ 2015 351 4281 – accessed 26 August 2017; Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Volume 71 Issue 3 1 March 2016 pp 567-8 – accessed 26 August 2017]

(Volume XII, page web)

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