James Conway 1921–1998
This year has brought to the Council for High Blood Pressure Research the passing of many of its original founders who were responsible for worldwide recognition of systemic arterial hypertension as a major disease that must be understood more clearly and treated effectively. Dr James Conway was one such person, who spent an active and fulfilling clinical and investigative career in Great Britain and the United States. He died on May 25, 1998, at the age of 76 after a long illness, having imparted his great talents, experience, and warm personality to many of us.
Most recently, Jim Conway was honorary consultant cardiologist to the John Radcliffe Hospital of Oxford University. He was highly respected and much loved by his colleagues, patients, and friends and will be missed for his generosity, enthusiasm, and delightful sense of humor. For the past 18 years he worked at Oxford, never really retired, and he remained a father figure to many British, American, and other clinical research fellows in Great Britain and the United States.
Dr Conway was born in Zimbabwe but was educated at Cambridge and St. Bartholomews Hospital, qualifying in 1946, after which he received PhD and MD degrees from London and Cambridge Universities, respectively. He was a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London. His first career was as a senior lecturer at Charing Cross Hospital Medical School, and then in 1956 he moved to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor as Associate Professor of Medicine, where he spent the next 15 years. Working with Sidley Hoobler and later with David Bohr and Stevo Julius, he established an international reputation as an accomplished clinical physiologist. He was one of the earliest pioneers of the measurement of cardiac output and other circulatory variables in humans. In 1969, he moved to Georgetown University as full Professor of Medicine, working closely with Edward Freis, but partly for family reasons he returned to Britain in 1971 as manager of biological research in what was then ICI Pharmaceuticals (now Zeneca). It was there that his expertise in human circulatory physiology proved to be of great value in the research and development of many new compounds and, in particular, the new β-adrenergic receptor blocking agents which were to form the foundation of their modern cardiovascular pharmaceutical portfolio. He retired from ICI in 1980 and happily attached himself to the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Oxford, where he played an important part in the development of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring and of trial methodology designed to determine more precisely the effects of different treatments using crossover designs in randomized comparisons. This concept markedly reduced the numbers of patients needed to obtain definitive answers.
Although he was by nature an extremely modest person, the quality of his work was acknowledged by a number of awards such as a founding fellow of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research, the CIBA Foundation Award for research in aging, an Established Investigatorship from the American Heart Association, and the Folkow award for his studies involving integrated physiology.
Most of all, however, Jim Conway was an extremely unselfish individual who readily helped others to achieve their research aims. He was seen always more in the research laboratory than anywhere else, and he continued this commitment despite his illness until a few months before his death. In addition to his research help, he and his wife Betty were very generous with their time, looking after the young people working in the laboratory and their families. They will remember him, as will his many friends and his extended family, for the wonderful meals the Conways organized for the fellows and their families, contributing ethnic dishes from many parts of the world. He leaves behind a huge bibliography of solid research achievements, together with many wise reviews, particularly his distinguished review on “Hemodynamic Aspects of Essential Hypertension in Humans” published in Physiological Reviews (1984;64:617–660). He is survived by his wife Betty and his five children.