Reporter 422, 8 June 1998

Professor B R Jewell

Brian Jewell went to Charing Cross Hospital Medical School in 1953, but by the time he became medically qualified in 1961, he had already intercalated a BSc in physiology at Charing Cross and a PhD at University College, London. He followed a career in physiology spending a period in the USA, first at Harvard and then at the Mayo Clinic, before becoming Reader in Experimental Physiology at UCL. His main areas of research concerned the physiology of skeletal and cardiac muscle.

Brian came to Leeds in 1978 as Professor of Physiology and as Head of the Department. He quickly realised that the research performance of the department must be refocused. To achieve this he introduced a system of work load distribution which ensured that the department met its teaching obligations but freed staff to engage in research. The department improved its research rating in successive assessments. This model for the organisation of academic staff time has since been widely adopted. He served on many School and University committees. In 1987 he became Chairman of the Board of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and it was at this time that his administrative skills became more widely known.

In 1990 he was appointed Dean of Medical and Dental Development, a new post in which he worked alongside the Deans of Medicine and Dentistry. He undertook important negotiations with the NHS, which provided a sound financial basis for collaboration between the two organisations. He was closely concerned in the reorganisation of the School of Medicine from a collection of independent departments, some of them very small, loosely bound together by the needs of the MBChB curriculum, into a unitary organisation better able to meet the demands of curricular change, the Research Assessment Exercise, Subject Review and financial stringency.

In 1994 he was appointed Dean of the School of Medicine in succession to Professor Losowsky. In this role, he developed the administrative structure of the School; established a sound financial base; fostered the development of the Research School of Medicine and postgraduate teaching; and encouraged developments in the School by the appointment of talented new staff. The Medical Education Unit was a completely new venture and has already shown its value by participation in curricular development, preparation for various inspections of teaching and the introduction of new methods of teaching as exemplified by the establishment of Clinical Skills Laboratories.

In the last few years, he has maintained close links with the NHS, serving on the Leeds Health Authority as Deputy Chairman, and as Chairman of the Leeds Family Health Services Authority. He took a major part in the discussions which led to the establishment of a single acute NHS Trust in Leeds, a development which was seen to be strongly in the interests of the School and of the University.

Those who worked with Brian came to appreciate his many personal attributes; his intellectual grasp of issues; his careful elucidation of problems; his knowledge of financial matters; his calm, rational and courteous approach in negotiations; his sense of fairness in handling professional and personal matters; his consistency and dedication to the interests of the School and the University. Less frequently, but memorably, we came to know his quiet, but occasionally wicked, sense of humour.

Brian’s legacy to the School of Medicine has been inestimable: he has prepared it to face the demands of the new millennium and leaves it in good shape. His contributions to the University at large and to the NHS have been substantial. Even in his last months as Dean, he has been active in preparing the ground for a major expansion of the School in response to the recommendations of the Campbell Report; a role which he is uniquely equipped to fulfil. We shall remember him with gratitude and respect and miss his many contributions to our work.

We wish him and Benita a healthy and happy retirement.

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