Interview with Professor Victor Dubowitz, conducted by Professor Tilli Tansey, for the History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group, 27 September 2016, in the School of History, Queen Mary University of London. Transcribed by Mrs Debra Gee, and edited by Professor Tilli Tansey and Mr Alan Yabsley.
Professor Victor Dubowitz BSc MB ChB MD PhD FRCP FRCPCH (b. 1931) graduated in medicine in Cape Town (1954), followed by residencies in medicine and surgery at Groote Schuur Hospital. He came to the UK in 1956 for 18 months to get broad clinical experience, exposure to culture, and planned to return to general practice in South Africa. A three-week locum at Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children (Carshalton, Surrey) exposed him to two wards with muscular dystrophy patients. Having come for three weeks he stayed for three years, initially as a Senior House Officer for a year, which he combined with doing muscle biopsies and then got interested in doing research and contacted Professor Everson (Tony) Pearse at Hammersmith Hospital, a pathologist with a special interest in enzyme histochemistry. He embarked on a study of enzyme histochemistry of normal and dystrophic muscle, completing an MD Thesis in 1960. He realized his heart was really in clinical medicine and paediatrics and successfully applied for a paediatric lectureship in Sheffield where he spent the next 13 years, becoming Reader in Child Health and Developmental Neurology, setting up a muscle unit and a basic research group and completing a PhD on the histochemistry of developing and diseased muscle. In 1973 he applied for the newly established Chair of Paediatrics and Neonatal Medicine at Hammersmith, and moved a large research group with him, ultimately creating the Jerry Lewis Muscle Research Labs, funded by the American MDA, on a hospital roof. He rapidly established an internationally recognized paediatric centre for Muscle Disease of clinicians and basic scientists, with a primary emphasis on the clinical management of patients and their long-term follow-up. In 1990 he established the multidisciplinary journal Neuromuscular Disorders of which he remains Editor-in-Chief. In 1995 he founded the World Muscle Society, which aimed primarily at providing a forum for young researchers to present their work. Elected foundation President, he was re-elected every three years until the present (2017). Professor Dubowitz published his autobiography (Ramblings of a Peripatetic Paediatrician) in 2005.
The History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group is funded by the Wellcome Trust, which is a registered charity (no. 210183). The current interview has been funded by the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award entitled “Makers of modern biomedicine: testimonies and legacy” (2012-2017; awarded to Professor Tilli Tansey).
The interview is part of the History of the Modern Biomedicine Interviews (Digital Collection).
Access to the transcript of this video interview and its related material:
History of Modern Biomedicine Interviews (Digital Collection), items e2017111-e2017123.
Example of how to cite: Tansey E M (intvr); Yabsley A (prod) (2017) Dubowitz, Victor: 01 - Deciding on a medical career (27-Sep-2016). History of Modern Biomedicine Interviews (Digital Collection), item e2017112. London: Queen Mary University of London.
Access to the transcript of a longer, audio interview:
Note: Video interviews are conducted following standard oral history methodology, and have received ethical approval (reference QMREC 0642). Video interview transcripts are edited only for clarity and factual accuracy. Related material has been deposited in the Wellcome Library.
© The Trustee of the Wellcome Trust, London, 2017.
Professor Dubowitz has also contributed to the Wellcome Witness Seminar on Origins of Neonatal Intensive Care.