On Wednesday evening (18th of January) the Faculty of Medicine held its annual Fellowship Ceremony. Staff and students from across the Faculty gathered in the Lecture Theatre of the Sir Alexander Fleming Building to see Professor Robert Souhami CBE, Professor Averil Mansfield CBE and Dr Malcolm Skingle CBE receive Fellowships of the Faculty of Medicine – a recognition of their immense contributions to medicine and science.
Professor Souhami gave an excellent lecture entitled “The continuing legacy of the Radium Girls”. He talked about the legacy of girls in the 1920s who painted clock and watch dials with paint containing radium, licking the paintbrushes to get a sharp enough point and unfortunately swallowing the radium as they did so. At the time radium was seen as harmless, even medically beneficial. After a few years the women began to get ill with necrosis of the jaw, anaemia and later osteocarcinoma and cancer of the sinuses. It was some time before it was realised that the radium was responsible.
Their exposure also caused bone marrow failure and bone cancer at distant sites because the young women swallowed the radium paint which was partially absorbed by the gut and deposited like calcium in bones. The lecture provided a fascinating insight into the process of the medical discovery of this mechanism.The women’s exposure to radium and the illnesses they developed eventually changed US labour laws. The lecture was a fitting subject at such an occasion to underline the value of medical scientific discovery to improving people’s lives.
The evening was extremely enjoyable and it was fantastic to have the opportunity to honour three such outstanding individuals.
Dr Lyndsey Houseman
Executive Officer (Governance and Review)
Photos from the event
Photos taken by Neville Miles