Charles Herbert Stuart-Harris
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Stuart-Harris was born 12 July 1909 in Kings Norton, the son of a Birmingham general practitioner. In 1935 he received a £55 a year fellowship from the bequest of Sir Henry Royce (of Roll-Royce) to conduct research at the National Institute for Medical Research into the cause and cure of influenza. The following year he went to the United States on a Rockefeller scholarship. In World War II he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Europe and the Far East, commanding field laboratories, ending with the rank of colonel and showing an early acumen in the diagnosis of infective diseases. He himself contracted some of those diseases he studied, notably typhus and typhoid.
When he was appointed to the chair at Sheffield in 1946 the shortlist included George White Pickering and Robert Platt who respectively became regius professor of medicine and master of Pembroke College at Oxford and professor of medicine at Manchester and president of the Royal College of Physicians. At Sheffield Stuart-Harris carried out research into poliomyelitis and influenza viruses (the oral polio vaccine underwent its first trials at Sheffield) and set up a major research and epidemiological unit to investigate respiratory illnesses. He identified the difference between influenza and the common cold, showing that several strains of influenza virus existed and that vaccination against one was not necessarily proof against another. Known as the "smiling tiger", he was always courteous but firm. He rarely missed a ward round, outpatient clinic, or teaching session despite his assiduous attendance at and contribution to meetings of national and international bodies.
He was honoured with a C.B.E. in 1961 and a knighthood in 1970. After retirement he served as postgraduate dean for five years and adviser to the new Chinese medical school in Hong Kong. He was survived by his wife, Marjorie, a daughter and two sons (one a professor of oncology in Australia).
His publications include:
- Influenza and Other Virus Infections of the Respiratory Tract, Edward Arnold & Co (1953)
- Medicine Today and the Role of Science in Medical Education (Wade foundation lecture), University of Southampton RGSE (1972)
- The Contribution of Virology to Contemporary Medicine: The Harveian Oration of 1974, Creative Press (1975)
- Influenza: The Viruses and the Disease, Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (1976)
- G.R.O. births register, July–September 1909, Volume 6c Page 638
- G.R.O. deaths index, District No 0481C, Reg. C65A, Ent. 185, DOR 0296
- Postgraduate Medical Journal, February 1979, pp. 71-72
- Amazon website
- Obituary, J.J. Daly and Thomas Lodge, British Medical Journal (International Edition), 03/22/97, Vol. 314 Issue 7084, p906