Lives of the fellows

John Marks

b.23 March 1924 d.27 April 2016
MB BS Lond(1946) MRCP(1948) MD(1949) FRCPath(1963) FRCP(1972) MRCPsych(1977) FRCPsych

John Marks was a pharmaceutical physician, fellow, tutor and co-director of medical studies at Girton College, Cambridge. He was born in Ashford, Middlesex, the only son of Ernest Marks, a maths teacher and headmaster, and Marjorie Alice Marks née Whiteley, the daughter of a cabinet maker. He attended Latymer Upper School and passed his higher school certificate early, at the age of just 16. He went on to study medicine at Middlesex Hospital Medical School, where he won several prizes and captained the United Hospitals Boat Club. He was also an accomplished hockey, cricket, squash, football and rugby player.

After qualifying in 1946, he was a house physician at Middlesex Hospital, working with George Beaumont [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.33]. In 1947, he went to Cambridge as an Elmore research fellow, which led to an MD degree.

He was a university assistant pathologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital from 1949 to 1956, and a clinical research assistant in the department of radiotherapeutics at the University of Cambridge and a supervisor in physiology at Downing and Girton colleges from 1947.

In 1955 he began working in the pharmaceutical industry, as medical director of Roche Products and then as managing director. He had various roles in the company for 20 years and also continued to teach students at Downing. In 1976, Girton College became co-educational and a year later Marks was appointed as the first male fellow. He was also a college lecturer, tutor and director of studies (to 1991).

He was also heavily involved in college and university sports. He was a member, senior treasurer, president, chair and coach of various rugby, hockey, cricket, squash, sailing and football clubs and teams at Cambridge. But his greatest passion was rowing, and he held senior positions at Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club and Cambridge University Boat Club.

He published more than 25 medical textbooks and monographs, and over 100 chapters and articles. He also co-wrote a number of books on sport at Cambridge, including The bumps: an account of the Cambridge University Bumping Races 1827-1999 (Cambridge, George Gilbert, 2000) and Battle of the blues: the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race from 1829 (P to M Limited, 2004).

In 1947, Marks married Vera Joan Twinberrow (known as ‘Twin’), a nurse at Middlesex Hospital. They had two children, John William and Jane, and three grandchildren. John Marks died peacefully at Addenbrooke’s Hospital after a brief illness. In 2013, Girton named a new sports pavilion in his honour.

RCP editor

[BMJ 2016 354 3897 – accessed 6 July 2018; Cambridge University Boat Club Dr John Marks (1924-2016) – accessed 6 July 2018]

(Volume XII, page web)

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