Dr John Morgan-Hughes was one of the most enthusiastic neurologists I have ever met. He made outstanding contributions to British and world neurology as an incisive clinician, a rigorous researcher and an inspiring teacher.
John obtained a 1st class honours degree in natural sciences at Cambridge in 1954 and commenced his neurology career as a senior house officer at Queen Square in 1961. In 1966 he spent a formative year as an MRC funded international post-doctoral fellow at NIH Bethesda working in the then world leading neuromuscular unit of Dr King Engel.
On his return to London John established a major UK diagnostic and research muscle laboratory at the Institute of Neurology, Queen Square. Between 1968 and his retirement in 1997, he personally read over 12,000 muscle biopsies, and provided a highly valued service to colleagues which benefited patients nationally and internationally.
John’s passion for elucidating the molecular pathogenesis of human mitochondrial disease was infectious. He established a world class mitochondrial research group with strong links to John Clarke, David Landon and to the late Anita Harding (previous ABN medallist).
In 1987 John’s group discovered that mitochondrial DNA deletions that were only detectable in DNA extracted from skeletal muscle (and not from blood) could cause human neurological disease. These findings were published in the journal Nature in 1988. This seminal discovery opened a completely new chapter in neurology and in medicine.
Since John’s 1988 Nature paper, literally thousands of publications linking mitochondrial DNA to different human diseases have followed.
John published very extensively, and at the same time enjoyed and thrived upon major clinical commitments.
He ran the neurology service at Bedford hospital and the muscle service at Queen Square. John was respected worldwide and he received a prestigious life-time achievement award from the world federation of neurology in 2002. He was awarded the ABN medal in 2008 for distinguished services to Neurology.
The John Morgan-Hughes Fellowship has been set up in his memory to support young investigators worldwide undertaking up to one year of training fellowships or other academic activities focused on mitochondrial disease research.
Please give generously.
Professor Michael Hanna
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