With profound sadness and with almost palpable shock, I was deeply disturbed when several of Professor John Swales’ colleagues notified me of his sudden and tragic death. The field of hypertension is small, and most of us, who have derived much excitement cultivating its crops of new information, have come to know one another fairly well. And, so it was that I developed and valued John’s friendship, his thinking about the new and old information, and our discussions on Medicine in its broadest sense.
At one meeting we shared our concerns about these scientific publications re-inventing old concepts. It was this concern that prompted one of my earlier editorials,1 which was elaborated by Professors Williams, Heagerty, Samani, and Thurston in their accompanying In Memoriam.2 John truly enjoyed “re-searching” the extant literature, a pastime that I thoroughly enjoyed sharing with him. How unfortunate that more workers today fail to share John Swales’ interest and commitment!
In one such conversation with John Swales, we spoke of our frustration and concern about those who are responsible for the political aspects of scientific research. He had recently completed his “stint” directing the National Heath Service Research and Development Program for the United Kingdom. I was deeply moved by his discussion and thinking, and I invited him to formalize his thoughts in an editorial for Hypertension. His very important message was published last year,3 with my accompanying complementary notation about John and his philosophies.4 Shortly after publication of his message, John sent a warm letter, which I shall always treasure. In it he wrote “… it’s not common to read one’s obituary in one’s lifetime.” His words re-echo in my mind. I am grateful to John for his friendship and contributions; were it not that he wrote to me such a kind and memorable “thank you letter!”
Frohlich ED. Research means “look back.” Hypertension. 2000;35:693.
Williams B, Heagerty AM, Samani NJ, Thurston H. Professor John Douglas Swales, MD, FRCP, 1935–2000. Hypertension. 2001;37:1197–1198.
Swales JD. Hypertension in the political arena. Hypertension. 2000;35:1179–1182.
Frohlich ED. State of hypertension as we enter the 21st century: a social conundrum. Hypertension. 2000;35:1177–1178.