University of Leicester launches lecture series in memory of Leicester-born medical pioneer

Posted by pt91 at Apr 26, 2012 02:32 PM |
Inaugural John Swales Lecture on Monday April 30 at 4pm, Clinical Sciences Wing, Glenfield Hospital
University of Leicester launches lecture series in memory of Leicester-born medical pioneer

Professor John Swales, the University's first Professor of Medicine.

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 26 April 2012

The University of Leicester is to honour the memory of a leading Leicester-born medical academic who played a pivotal role in developing medical education and in improving healthcare in the city and county.

The Inaugural John Swales Lecture will take place on Monday 30 April at 4pm in memory of the first Professor of Medicine at the University of Leicester and will be attended by members of his family as well as former colleagues and current staff, students and graduates.

The Department of Cardiovascular Sciences is hosting the lecture which will be delivered at the University’s facility at Glenfield Hospital by Professor Stephen Harrap from the University of Melbourne.

Professor Swales’s son, Dr Philip Swales,  said:  “We are moved that the University of Leicester has established this memorial lecture in honour of John’s contribution as Foundation Professor of Medicine, clinician and academic. John spent many happy years in Leicester, the city of his birth and upbringing. He was extremely proud of the development of the Medical School and always modest about his contribution to its foundation. As an academic physician, his great interest was in hypertension from basic scientific aspects to its role in clinical cardiovascular disease. It gives us great pleasure to see the continuing international reputation of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences in this, and allied fields. We are sure John would have approved of the choice of such a distinguished speaker as Professor Stephen Harrap to give this inaugural lecture. We look forward to joining with friends, colleagues and those with an interest in academic medicine on this occasion.”

Professor Nilesh Samani, Head of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University said: "We are delighted to initiate this annual lecture in memory of Professor John Swales, who was the first Professor of Medicine in the Leicester Medical School. Professor Swales was a world expert on hypertension and established Leicester as a centre of excellence in this field. Many of us were taught by him and indeed, the current reputation of Leicester as a leading academic centre in cardiovascular medicine has a lot to do with his inspired initial leadership".

Professor Bryan Williams Professor of Medicine at the University of Leicester said: "John Swales was an inspiration to all of us fortunate to work with him. John was a cultured man of many talents, complemented by a dry wit and legendary writing skills that remain in the scientific literature as a testament to his immense contribution. He was truly a giant in the field of hypertension, admired across the world, and he laid the foundation for the international reputation of the University in that field today. I had the honour of succeeding John as Professor of Medicine 16 years ago and it is fitting that a lecture has been inaugurated in honour of his great achievements here. It is also fitting that Stephen Harrap the current President of the International Society of Hypertension should deliver the first lecture. I am particularly pleased for his wife Dooney and family, that a lasting tribute has been established by the University."

Dr Maciej Tomaszewski, Clinical Senior Lecturer, said: "The lecture has been made possible by a bequest from Professor Swales's family and we are grateful to them. We are delighted to have Professor Steven Harrap from the University of Melbourne, who is the current President of the International Society of Hypertension, who Professor Swales knew well, as the first lecturer".

Professor Swales, who died in 2000, was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School. In 1974, he accepted the post of foundation professor and chairman of medicine at the new medical school at the University of Leicester. His inaugural lecture The Academic Physician suggested with his unique dry humour that he was “that rare and eccentric figure, the doctor who is also employed by a university” at a time when the need for academic units in medicine was not universally accepted.

He lectured on the need to apply non-clinical science to clinical work and training, while recognising that “in the end it is the individual patient and what happens to him that matters”. He was an advocate of applying a breadth of knowledge, beyond the disciplines of science and medicine, and turned to literature, philosophy and art to achieve this balance.  Importantly to him, with the formation of the medical school, came both direct and indirect benefits to the population of his native city, Leicester, through investment and improvements in the local provision of healthcare. The academic Department of Medicine developed from these humble beginnings to achieve international standing.

• The John Swales Lecture will be delivered by Professor Stephen Harrap Department of Physiology, The University of Melbourne, “30 Years in the World of Blood Pressure – More Heat Than Light?” Monday 30th April 2012 4pm Clinical Sciences Wing Lecture Theatre, Glenfield Hospital. Open to staff and students of the University of Leicester and Leicester’s hospitals.

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For a biography of Professor Swales, follow this link:

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