Cyril Clarke

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sir Cyril Clarke
Cyril Astley Clarke (1907-2000).jpg
Born(1907-08-22)22 August 1907
Leicester, England
Died21 November 2000(2000-11-21) (aged 93)
Alma materGonville and Caius College and Guy's Hospital
Known forPioneering work on prevention of Rh disease, and genetics of Lepidoptera
Spouse(s)Lady Frieda (or Féo) Clarke (m. 1935-1998)
Children3 sons: Miles, Charles, John
AwardsAlbert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research (1980)
Buchanan Medal (1990)
Scientific career
FieldsMedicine and genetics
InstitutionsLiverpool University

Sir Cyril Astley Clarke, KBE, FRCP, FRCOG, (Hon) FRC Path, FRS[1] (22 August 1907 – 21 November 2000) was a British physician, geneticist and lepidopterist. He was honoured for his pioneering work on prevention of Rh disease of the newborn, and also for his work on the genetics of the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths).[2][3]


Cyril Clarke was born on 22 August 1907 in Leicester, England and received his school education at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys, Leicester and at the independent Oundle School near Peterborough. His interest in butterflies and moths began at school. His studied natural science at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, graduating in 1929, and then medicine at Guy's Hospital, London, graduating in 1932.[3] During the Second World War he worked as a medical specialist in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. After the war Clarke worked as a registrar at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and then as Consultant Physician at the United Liverpool Hospitals. In 1963 he was appointed Director of the Nuffield Unit of Medical Genetics based at the University of Liverpool and two years later was made Professor of Medicine. He held these posts until his retirement in 1972. In retirement he served as President of the Royal College of Physicians (1972–1977)[4]

Clarke helped to develop the technique of giving Rh-negative women inter-muscular injections of anti-RhD antibodies during pregnancy to prevent Rh disease in their newborn babies. This was one of the major advances in preventive medicine in the second half of the 20th century.

Clarke answered an advert in an insect magazine for swallowtail butterfly pupae that had been placed by Philip Sheppard. They met and began working together in their common interest of lepidoptery. From 1959 they started running a moth trap in Caldy Common near West Kirby, Wirral, England. They studied the peppered moth, the scarlet tiger moth and swallowtail butterfly. They published papers on the genetics of Lepidoptera and also on Rh disease. Clarke continued research in his retirement and in 1988 he rediscovered a scarlet tiger moth colony on the Wirral Way, West Kirby, that had been started in 1961 by Philip Sheppard. The colony was useful for study of the genetics of changes in populations.

He married Frieda (or Féo) in 1934. Lady Clarke died in 1998. Cyril Clarke died in 2000. They had three sons, one of whom is a consultant neurologist.[3]

Career and awards

  • Second World War - Medic in Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve
  • 1947 to 1958 - Part-time Clinical Lecturer at Liverpool University, England.
  • 1958 to 1965 - Reader at Liverpool University, England.
  • 1965 to 1972 - Professor of Medicine at Liverpool University, England. Later, Honorary Nuffield Research Fellow, Department of Genetics and Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Liverpool. Director, Research Unit, Royal College of Physicians of London.
  • 1967 - Lumleian lecture to Royal College of Physicians on Prevention of Rh-Haemolytic Disease[5]

Awards and accolades


  • Professor Sir Cyril (A.) Clarke (1987), Human Genetics and Medicine (3rd ed.), London: Edward Arnold, ISBN 0-7131-2944-1

See also


  1. ^ Weatherall, D. (2002). "Sir Cyril Astley Clarke, C.B.E. 22 August 1907 - 21 November 2000". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 48: 69. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2002.0005.
  2. ^ Weatherall, D. (2001). "Cyril Astley Clarke". Journal of Medical Genetics. 38 (5): 281. doi:10.1136/jmg.38.5.281. PMC 1734863.
  3. ^ a b c "Sir Cyril Astley Clarke". Munks Roll – Lives of the Fellows. Royal College of Physicians: Royal College of Physicians. XI: 112. 21 August 2013. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Clarke, Sir Cyril Astley, 1907-2000. Knight. Clinical geneticist". National Archives. Archived from the original on 28 October 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
  5. ^ Clarke, C. A. (1967). "Prevention of Rh-Haemolytic Disease". The British Medical Journal. 4 (5570): 7–12. doi:10.1136/bmj.4.5570.7. PMC 1748824. PMID 4167367.


Academic offices
Preceded by
The Lord Rosenheim
President of the Royal College of Physicians
Succeeded by
Sir Douglas Black
Preceded by
Gyorgy Karoly Radda
Buchanan Medal
Succeeded by
Denis Parsons Burkitt