Lives of the fellows

David Duncan Barwick

b.3 April 1934 d.18 February 2015
MB BS Durham(1957) MRCP Edin(1962) FRCP Edin(1973) FRCP(1991)

David Duncan Barwick was a neurologist and neurophysiologist in Newcastle. He was born in Gateshead, County Durham, the son of David Duncan Barwick, a director, and Edna Margaret Simm Barwick. He graduated from Durham University Medical School in 1957 and was a house physician and surgeon at the Royal Victoria Infirmary and Newcastle General Hospital.

He trained in neurology under Henry Miller [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.396] and John Walton [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web], and spent a year at Cornell Medical School in New York. On his return, he worked at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in London, where he trained in neurophysiology.

He was appointed as a consultant neurologist and clinical lecturer in neurology in 1967, and undertook outpatient clinics at Newcastle General Hospital and Dryburn Hospital in Durham. His interest in neurophysiology increased and he wrote several seminal early papers on the role of electromyography (EMG) in the dystrophies with John Walton and David Gardner-Medwin [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web].

In 1965, as the first senior registrar in clinical neurophysiology, he established a clinical neurophysiology department at Newcastle General Hospital and had close links with the nascent muscular dystrophy laboratories, where Alan McComas was developing a basic neurophysiology research department. In association with John Osselton, Barwick developed the electroencephalography (EEG) services in the northern region and extended the clinical neurophysiology department, providing EEG, EMG and nerve conduction services to the twin neurology units at Newcastle General Hospital and the Royal Victoria Infirmary. He was responsible for the introduction of quantitative EMG techniques, and trained and inspired a new generation of clinical neurophysiologists from within the UK and abroad.

David Barwick was highly respected in the fields of both neurology and clinical neurophysiology. A reserved and unassuming man, he was greatly valued as a colleague and friend, and was a kind and considerate physician who felt it was a great privilege to be able to attend to his patients' needs at a vulnerable point in their lives.

Barwick developed asthma in adult life and was compelled to seek early retirement in 1996. One of his great loves was opera and, although in retirement his breathing problems prevented him attending live performances, he nevertheless derived much enjoyment from his substantial record collection. He married in 1959, having met his wife Helen Cliff whilst she was a midwife at Newcastle General Hospital, and was survived by his wife and four children (three daughters and a son) and three grandchildren.

Peter Fawcett

(Volume XII, page web)

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