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Proceedings of the Association of British Neurologists and the British Neuropsychiatry Association, Royal College of Physicians, 2–4 October 2002

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Lord Walton of Detchant

Lord Walton of Detchant has made outstanding contributions in neurology, medical education, and scientific research. He is arguably the most renowned British neurologist of his generation. He was born in the north east of England and trained at King’s College in the University of Durham, now the University of Newcastle on Tyne, where he graduated in 1945 with First Class Honours and Distinctions in Medicine, Surgery, and Midwifery. During National Service he served in the Western Approaches and the Middle East, later joining the TA and gaining the TD. He demonstrated his potential for research and writing during his MD thesis on subarachnoid haemorrhage, on which he was examined by Professor Natrass and Sir Charles Symonds, and which he later turned into an outstanding book in 1956. He was persuaded by Natrass and Henry Miller to forego an initial interest in paediatrics and, after a research fellowship, part of which was at the National Hospital, he spent time in Boston with Raymond Adams before writing his second book, a comprehensive text on polymyositis, the start of his lifelong interest in muscle disease. He founded the Muscular Dystrophy Laboratories at NGH and his phenotypic classification of muscle disease laid the foundation for subsequent studies in molecular genetics. In 1961 he wrote the book that became a standard text for medical students, Essentials of Neurology. In 1964 he edited the first edition of Disorders of Voluntary Muscle and in 1969, shortly after his appointment as Professor, he was invited to follow Lord Brain as author of Diseases of the Nervous System. In 1971 he succeeded Henry Miller as Dean of Medicine, a post which he held for a decade and during which he was knighted in 1979. Towards the end of his …

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