R. St. A. Heathcote (1888-1951)

Reginald St. Alban Heathcote was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford and trained at University College Hospital, London. During the First World War he served as a Captain in the R.A.M.C. (Royal Army Medical Corps) and then as a Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander in the R.N.V.R. (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve). After the war he joined the Department of Pharmacology at Oxford, took his D.M. in 1920 and B.Sc. in 1922.

In 1922 Heathcote was appointed to the chair of pharmacology in the University of Cairo. He became very interested in various aspects of ancient as well as modern Egypt. He was a keen photographer and built up a large collection of photographs of Egypt. Some 2,500 of these, in the form of black and white negatives, are now in the Archive of the Griffith Institute. Heathcote accompanied or visited F. Ll. Griffith on his epigraphic and archaeological missions to Philae and Kawa. At least one, possibly more, of his photographs is included in M. F. Laming Macadam's The Temples of Kawa. Heathcote was awarded the Order of the Nile for his services to Cairo University.

Heathcote returned to the United Kingdom in 1933 and was appointed lecturer and then Professor of Pharmacology in the Welsh National School of Medicine in Cardiff. He was a superb teacher and inspired a whole generation of Welsh students. He published a large number of scholarly contributions in medical journals, notably on chemotherapy. The author of the obituary in the British Medical Journal described him as having been 'gentle and encouraging with beginners, penetrating in his analysis of the work of those more experienced, sane and cautious in his opinion of research matters, loyal to his friends, and discreet in committee'.

Heathcote died in London on 19 May, 1951.

(Based on obituaries in the British Medical Journal and in The Lancet, both on June 2, 1951.)

(October 7, 2008)

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