Edward Sydney Williams
Nuclear Medicine Pioneer, Life Long Mountaineer, Poet and Priest
Professor Edward Sydney Williams PhD, FRCP, FRCR, passed away from acute myocardial infarction on 31st August,2015, leaving his wife Wendy, three sons and 5 grandchildren.
With a dual degree in physics and medicine, Edward Williams pioneered Nuclear Medicine in the UK, being the director of the world renowned Institute of Nuclear Medicine from 1963 to 1985. With a major grant from the Nuffield Foundation, he helped and designed a 4 storey building, housing the new Institute in 1961 in the then Medical School in Mortimer Street. Formal opening by Lord Todd, FRS, in 1969.
He initiated the intercollegiate MSc course in Nuclear Medicine, after lengthy negotiations with London University, a program which was to attract well over a hundred national and international graduates.
Helping to shape national and European legislation on the use of radioactive substances, he became first Chairman of the national ARSAC Committee, issuing national certificates for practioners in the UK.
A lifelong mountaineer, a member of the Alpine Club for 50 years, visiting the summit of 3 previously unclim-bed peaks in Asia, passionate for high altitude physiology, he took charge of the science of an early expedition to the Karakoram in 1956, a range of very high mountains just to the north-west of the Himalayas, studying the causes of oedema and mountain sickness. Key steps involved the measurement at high altitude of electrolytes in saliva, which he published in Science in 1961, the assessment of human aldosterone excretion and potassium retention again at high altitude, which he published in Nature in 1961, and presenting to the Royal Society, data on the human adaptation of electrolyte regulation to extreme high altitude in 1966! He became a member of the British Mount Kongur Expedition to China in 1981 and to Pikes Peak in Colorado, thereafter.
After completing a 3 year ordination course, he became a priest in the Anglican Church. He published his first volume of (very moving) poems ‘Hearing Silence’ in 2011 (Book Guild UK).
Written by Professor Peter J. Ell, FMedSci Dr HC