Christopher John Dickinson

b. 1 February 1927, d.30 September 2015

J. Dickinson

John Dickinson was chair of the Department of Medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College, London. He was born in Sydney, Australia. Early in his boyhood, the family returned to England, and he was educated at Berkhamsted School. He obtained a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford, initially intending to study physiology. He gained his BA in 1947 and obtained a BSc (in 1950) while acting as a university demonstrator in physiology. However, wishing to put his interest in physiology to practical use, he continued to pursue a medical career, qualifying as a physician in 1952 after clinical studies at University College Hospital (UCH).

His approach to medicine was always to seek out the underlying pathophysiology of disease, which might lead to its treatment. This was epitomised in the classic book Clinical Physiology (Blackwell Scientific, 1960) co-edited with Jeremy Slater and Moran Campbell, likeminded colleagues at the Middlesex.

John was already a formidable force to be reckoned with in clinical research. He had an amazing network of clinical research colleagues and friends, such as his luminary physiological sciences friend, Arthur Guyton, in the States. At McMaster, John and colleagues there had set about capturing their knowledge of clinical physiology into a classic set of computer simulations of circulation, respiration, body fluids and electrolytes and drug kinetics, christened as the Mac Series. During the next 15 years, these developed and travelled the world from Bart’s and McMaster, latterly via IRL Press, and it was technological obsolescence of the programming languages and libraries used that did for them in the end – in many respects, they have not been bettered.

Note: This short biography draws on the historical archive of the Royal College of Physicians of London.