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It is with great sadness that we share the news that Godfrey Fowler, our founding Head of Department at Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, passed away on 29 March aged 90.

Godfrey Fowler with Richard Hobbs, 2013

Godfrey is fondly remembered by many colleagues in the Department, where he worked from 1978 to 1997. 
Professor Richard Hobbs, current Head of Department at Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, remembers Godfrey: 
"Although Godfrey lived 90 full years the world is a quieter place without him. He was one of the founders of academic primary care in the UK (which effectively meant he helped found academic primary care globally). Despite only having a part time role and few staff at Oxford, he helped introduce important changes to medical undergraduate training here that saw a greater emphasis on clinical medicine and the introduction of medicine outside of hospitals into the curriculum. We shouldn’t under-estimate quite what an impact these early pioneers on transforming medical training have had on the holistic training of the doctors we see today.  
Although this was really all the University wanted, or expected, from Godfrey’s time, he also had a remarkably productive research career in terms of establishing successful research programmes and helping develop the academic careers of others, including David Mant, Ann McPherson, Tim Lancaster and many others who themselves have had major impacts on academic primary care 
His research programmes focused mainly on the prevention of cardiovascular disease (the world’s most important cause of mortality and major morbidity), innovation and evidence in smoking cessation and health behaviour change, and the early recognition and screening of diseases, including cancer.  His successors at Oxford have continued to develop these themes and add to them which provides its own confirmation of the importance of his academic legacy. 
Although he retired 20 years ago, he remained a major enthusiast and supporter of the importance of general practice and primary care research. He remained very convivial and entertaining at meetings and was an unassuming but enjoyable lunch partner!"

There is an obituary in the Guardian Godfrey Fowler obituary | Medicine | The Guardian 

A website has also been set-up to help grow Godfrey's tribute with messages or memories:  In Loving Memory of Professor Godfrey Heath Fowler (

Current members of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Heath Sciences share their reflections:

Anthony Harnden, Professor of Primary Care and Director of Graduate Studies: 
"I remember Godfrey with affection, he was very supportive of my career when I was a young GP and clinical tutor. More recently I met him at a Balliol dinner and his conversation about general practice research and policy was interesting as ever. He was a credit to our profession."

Trish Greenhalgh, Professor of Primary Care Health Sciences: 
"Godfrey taught me as a student. When I came to Oxford he took me to lunch at Balliol and said 'I hope you’re going to shake this place up'."

Clare Bankhead, Associate Professor: 
"I was only in post for about a year whilst Godfrey was at the helm, but I was very touched when I bumped into him at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales, several years later and despite being totally out of context, he instantly remembered my name. I remember him as being a very unassuming, generous and interesting man."




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Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not of Oxford University. Readers' comments will be moderated - see our guidelines for further information.