Clinical Autonomic Research
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
In memoriam: Sir Roger Bannister 1929–2018
· Roland D Thijs
· Anne Pavy–Le Traon
· Gregor Wenning
· Jean Michel Senard
Received: 27 April 2018 / Accepted: 15 May 2018
© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018
With great sadness The European Federation of Autonomic
Societies (EFAS) reports the death of Sir Roger Bannister
on March 3, 2018. Sir Roger Bannister was born on March
23 1929 in Harrow, England. Following his school exams
he attended the University College School, London, where
he obtained his undergraduate degree, followed by medical
school at Oxford University.
Sir Roger Bannister was one of the best runners of his
time. He became famous worldwide as the ﬁrst runner to run
a mile in less than 4 min (the “miracle mile”). He himself
considered his fourth position and the British record at the
Olympic ﬁnals for the 1500-m race and his ﬁrst place at the
British Empire and Commonwealth Games as well as his
scientiﬁc contributions within 40 highly productive years
as a neurologist as the most important landmarks in his life.
Although he was one of the world’s best runners of his time,
he retired in 1954 from professional running to concentrate
on his medical career.
In his 40 years as a neurologist he signiﬁcantly advanced
the ﬁeld. One of his many contributions to neurology was
his focus on the autonomic nervous system. He characterized
autonomic dysfunctions, including acute autonomic neurop-
athy, and he developed tests for structured and precise meas-
urements of the autonomic nervous system. In addition, he
focused on multiple system atrophy and pure autonomic fail-
ure and broadened the spectrum of management strategies.
Sir Roger Bannister was a neurologist at St Mary’s Hos-
pital and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neuro-
surgery in Queen Square and initiated Autonomic Units at
both hospitals. These Units continue to be leading referral
centers in Western Europe (further enriched by his successor
Christopher Mathias). Thus, Sir Roger Bannister also inﬂu-
enced clinical and scientiﬁc work on the autonomic nervous
system thoughout Europe.
Among his many other commitments, he served as Chair-
man of the Sports Council, the ICSSPE/CIEPPS, and as
Master of Pembroke College, University of Oxford. He was
knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975.
With the passing of Sir Roger Bannister, the ﬁeld of Euro-
pean autonomic neurology has lost one of its giants.
The EFAS Council.
* Walter Struhal
University Clinic Tulln, Karl Landsteiner University
of Health Sciences, Tulln, Niederösterreich, Austria