Lives of the fellows

David Hywel Davies

b.16 August 1924 d.December 2016
BM BCh Oxon(1952) MRCP DM(1966) FRCP(1975)

David Hywel Davies was chief of cardiology at the Denver VA Hospital, Colorado. He was born in Swansea, Wales. His father, William Trevor Davies, was a civil servant. He was educated at Swansea Grammar School and then gained an exhibition to Jesus College, Oxford to read chemistry. In 1943, he interrupted his studies to join the Royal Engineers and served in Italy, India and Malaya. After his demobilisation, he returned to Oxford, but switched to medicine. He undertook his clinical studies at Westminster Hospital, London, where he gained the Sturges prize in clinical medicine and a BMA essay prize. He qualified in 1952.

He was a house physician at the Westminster, St Stephen’s and Hammersmith hospitals from 1952 to 1954. He later specialised in cardiology. He was a registrar at St Stephen’s from 1955 to 1957, and then at the National Heart Hospital, where he worked under Paul Wood [Munk’s Roll, Vol.V, p.456]. He then went to the US, where he was an assistant professor at Wayne State University, Detroit from 1960 to 1962. He returned to London, where he was a senior registrar and a senior lecturer at Guy’s Hospital. In 1966, he gained a DM from Oxford with a thesis on ‘Respiratory disturbances in congenital heart disease’. A year later, he joined the faculty of the University of Colorado in Denver and was chief of cardiology at the VA Hospital in Denver. In 1986, he returned to the UK, as a consultant cardiologist to the heart transplant programme at Papworth Hospital, a role he held until 1988.

In 1959, he gave the first comprehensive description of chest deformities associated with congenital heart disease and their relationship to disturbed lung function (‘Chest deformities in congenital heart disease’ Br J Dis Chest. 1959 Apr;53[2]:151-8). He later looked at the causes of breathlessness in heart disease, which led to papers on the interplay of chemical changes in blood and mechanical factors in the control of breathing in different forms of heart disease, as well as in normal people.

In the 1970s and 1980s he became interested in the causes of coronary artery disease, and did not accept that raised cholesterol was a factor in the onset of the disease. In the late 1980s he looked at the role of ionic calcium in the control of cell division and the environmental causes of disturbances in calcium metabolism. In later works, he outlined the complexities of the genesis of coronary disease, including pre-natal factors, infant feeding and the role of calcium and inflammation.

Outside medicine he enjoyed tennis, skiing, writing and music. He retired to Sion, Switzerland, where he lived with his wife Lucie-Germaine (Lucette) née Pitteloud, whom he married in 1955. They had a daughter.

RCP editor

[BMJ 2017 357 1646 www.bmj.com/content/357/bmj.j1646 – accessed 15 May 2019; Wikipedia Hywel Davies (doctor) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hywel_Davies_(doctor) – accessed 15 May 2019]

(Volume XII, page web)

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