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David Bowsher (1925–2011)

David Bowsher (1925–2011) David was born in 1925 into an academic family – his father was a pathologist and mother a teacher. He was an inquisitive boy who developed an early interest in poetry, languages and music, and also excelled in a number of sports. His choice of medicine appears to have been influenced by his father while he himself felt attraction toward history and philology. After winning a scholarship to study medicine in Cambridge he worked two years as a supplementary teacher before entering academia. Few anecdotes remain from his wartime medical studies, but during his vacation he used to walk across Wales and earn his subsistence by fire watching on the roofs of cathedrals. He graduated from the medical school in 1950. After a couple of stints as a junior doctor in Manchester and Liverpool he received a fellowship in Human Anatomy at the University of Liverpool in 1952. A subsequent scholarship to spend over a year at Harvard Medical School determined much of his future career; it was there that he was introduced to neuroanatomy of pain, which remained his primary scientific focus throughout his career. Upon his return to Liverpool in 1956 he was appointed a Lecturer in Postgraduate Anatomy with a clinical attachment to the Walton Centre. He got his MD in 1960 and PhD in 1961, both from the University of Liverpool. His taught everything neurological from first year anatomy to final year clinical studies. His little textbook on the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system ran into 5 English editions and a number of foreign translations. His specialisation in Neurology secured him the position of Honorary Consultant Neurologist at the Walton Centre Pain Clinic in Liverpool in 1981‐1995. In order to expand on his research skills he spent almost all of the 1960s as Professeur associé in Paris; later followed shorter research fellowships in Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. By 1970 he had published seminal papers on pain physiology either as a sole author or with colleagues in Brain, Nature, Lancet and other leading anatomical and neurological journals. Early on he became a respected member of the initially small, but rapidly growing scientific and clinical community interested in pain. David was there in 1972 in Seattle when IASP was founded. He ran its British and Irish Pain Section which first became the Intractable Pain Society and later the British Pain Society. In 1974, together with Sam Lipton and colleagues from Liverpool he founded the Pain Relief Foundation, a charity devoted to the study of human chronic pain, and was instrumental in obtaining funding to establish a pain research unit, which later became Pain Research Institute, at the time the first unit in the UK devoted to the study of pain. He was the first director of that institute and worked tirelessly to develop its neurophysiological and biochemical departments. By this time he his main focus had shifted to clinical pain, especially neuropathic pain. Over the years he established a database of nearly 200 patients with central post stroke pain whom he studied with psychophysical tests and brain imaging. With visiting colleagues he explored the pathophysiology of postherpetic neuralgia and trigeminal neuralgia and published many seminal findings which today are easy to see as the groundwork for subsequent studies conducted by others using more sophisticated methods. His interests covered the whole gamut of pain from genetics to epidemiology to pathophysiology and clinical trials. Much of this work is observational in nature reflecting his anatomist's background – but each observation had its basis in a rigorous scientific hypothesis. He became well‐known for his willingness to evaluate the most complex and puzzling pain patients, and he received referrals from all over the UK and abroad. His substantial knowledge of the topic, experience, and a keen understanding of clinical features brought him considerable acclaim among patients and clinicians. In this context he was introduced to a family with a unique form of congenital insensitivity to pain he described in 2001 and which continued to study until the end of his professional career. David was widely known for his vast knowledge on etymology, music and history, but he could comfortably discuss any topic with charm and eloquence. If he struck a chord with his company he was funny and witty and considerate. His collection of jokes was unlimited but he could equally easily find an amusing side to any everyday problem. He had little patience for anything trivial or pretentious, and when on occasion he succumbed to the temptation of commenting on such, his chosen words were a masterly combination of gentle sarcasm and good‐natured ridicule. He was capable of creative lateral thinking that he knew would not be understood by many and this led him on many a occasion to defy formalities and bureaucratic rules. David's relationship with his university was variable; in good times it was in the neutral or lukewarm range but in other times it was quite a few degrees below that. By contrast, he was highly respected throughout the pain community and received numerous invitations to lecture all over the world. Among his many honours were those of Doctor of Science at Cambridge University and Honorary Citizen of Liverpool. David continued to work until the age of 82 at Pain Research Institute. Despite his advancing age he carried on visiting the institute daily, each time spending a good few hours to read, write, attend research meetings and in general drum up the morale. He was always willing to advice junior researchers on scientific matters and never hesitated to suggest a new line of research. His last paper was on the pathophysiology of congenital insensitivity to pain, published in 2009. He thrived with academic challenge; it is only when problems with his mobility became excessive that he had to give it up. He leaves an enormous legacy that will be difficult to match but will inspire the entire new generation of pain researchers. Turo Nurmikko, MD PhD Pain Research Institute University of Liverpool Liverpool L69 3BX United Kingdom http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png European Journal of Pain Wiley

David Bowsher (1925–2011)

European Journal of Pain , Volume 16 (3) – Mar 1, 2012

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
© 2012 European Federation of International Association for the Study of Pain Chapters
ISSN
1090-3801
eISSN
1532-2149
DOI
10.1002/j.1532-2149.2012.00112.x
Publisher site
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Abstract

David was born in 1925 into an academic family – his father was a pathologist and mother a teacher. He was an inquisitive boy who developed an early interest in poetry, languages and music, and also excelled in a number of sports. His choice of medicine appears to have been influenced by his father while he himself felt attraction toward history and philology. After winning a scholarship to study medicine in Cambridge he worked two years as a supplementary teacher before entering academia. Few anecdotes remain from his wartime medical studies, but during his vacation he used to walk across Wales and earn his subsistence by fire watching on the roofs of cathedrals. He graduated from the medical school in 1950. After a couple of stints as a junior doctor in Manchester and Liverpool he received a fellowship in Human Anatomy at the University of Liverpool in 1952. A subsequent scholarship to spend over a year at Harvard Medical School determined much of his future career; it was there that he was introduced to neuroanatomy of pain, which remained his primary scientific focus throughout his career. Upon his return to Liverpool in 1956 he was appointed a Lecturer in Postgraduate Anatomy with a clinical attachment to the Walton Centre. He got his MD in 1960 and PhD in 1961, both from the University of Liverpool. His taught everything neurological from first year anatomy to final year clinical studies. His little textbook on the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system ran into 5 English editions and a number of foreign translations. His specialisation in Neurology secured him the position of Honorary Consultant Neurologist at the Walton Centre Pain Clinic in Liverpool in 1981‐1995. In order to expand on his research skills he spent almost all of the 1960s as Professeur associé in Paris; later followed shorter research fellowships in Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. By 1970 he had published seminal papers on pain physiology either as a sole author or with colleagues in Brain, Nature, Lancet and other leading anatomical and neurological journals. Early on he became a respected member of the initially small, but rapidly growing scientific and clinical community interested in pain. David was there in 1972 in Seattle when IASP was founded. He ran its British and Irish Pain Section which first became the Intractable Pain Society and later the British Pain Society. In 1974, together with Sam Lipton and colleagues from Liverpool he founded the Pain Relief Foundation, a charity devoted to the study of human chronic pain, and was instrumental in obtaining funding to establish a pain research unit, which later became Pain Research Institute, at the time the first unit in the UK devoted to the study of pain. He was the first director of that institute and worked tirelessly to develop its neurophysiological and biochemical departments. By this time he his main focus had shifted to clinical pain, especially neuropathic pain. Over the years he established a database of nearly 200 patients with central post stroke pain whom he studied with psychophysical tests and brain imaging. With visiting colleagues he explored the pathophysiology of postherpetic neuralgia and trigeminal neuralgia and published many seminal findings which today are easy to see as the groundwork for subsequent studies conducted by others using more sophisticated methods. His interests covered the whole gamut of pain from genetics to epidemiology to pathophysiology and clinical trials. Much of this work is observational in nature reflecting his anatomist's background – but each observation had its basis in a rigorous scientific hypothesis. He became well‐known for his willingness to evaluate the most complex and puzzling pain patients, and he received referrals from all over the UK and abroad. His substantial knowledge of the topic, experience, and a keen understanding of clinical features brought him considerable acclaim among patients and clinicians. In this context he was introduced to a family with a unique form of congenital insensitivity to pain he described in 2001 and which continued to study until the end of his professional career. David was widely known for his vast knowledge on etymology, music and history, but he could comfortably discuss any topic with charm and eloquence. If he struck a chord with his company he was funny and witty and considerate. His collection of jokes was unlimited but he could equally easily find an amusing side to any everyday problem. He had little patience for anything trivial or pretentious, and when on occasion he succumbed to the temptation of commenting on such, his chosen words were a masterly combination of gentle sarcasm and good‐natured ridicule. He was capable of creative lateral thinking that he knew would not be understood by many and this led him on many a occasion to defy formalities and bureaucratic rules. David's relationship with his university was variable; in good times it was in the neutral or lukewarm range but in other times it was quite a few degrees below that. By contrast, he was highly respected throughout the pain community and received numerous invitations to lecture all over the world. Among his many honours were those of Doctor of Science at Cambridge University and Honorary Citizen of Liverpool. David continued to work until the age of 82 at Pain Research Institute. Despite his advancing age he carried on visiting the institute daily, each time spending a good few hours to read, write, attend research meetings and in general drum up the morale. He was always willing to advice junior researchers on scientific matters and never hesitated to suggest a new line of research. His last paper was on the pathophysiology of congenital insensitivity to pain, published in 2009. He thrived with academic challenge; it is only when problems with his mobility became excessive that he had to give it up. He leaves an enormous legacy that will be difficult to match but will inspire the entire new generation of pain researchers. Turo Nurmikko, MD PhD Pain Research Institute University of Liverpool Liverpool L69 3BX United Kingdom

Journal

European Journal of PainWiley

Published: Mar 1, 2012

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