Obituary – Professor Walter Holland

Professor Walter Holland –1929 – 2018

It is with great sadness that we share the news that former LSHTM staff member, Walter Holland, has passed away. Walter worked at LSHTM as an MRC Clinical Research Fellow in the Department of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics.

Walter Werner Holland was born on March 5, 1929 in Teplice-Sanov, Czechoslovakia to Henry Holland and Hertha Zentner. The family fled persecution under the Nazis, moving to London in 1939. He attended several schools including Rugby School, before going on to St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School to study medicine, developing a passion for research. He qualified in 1954 having obtained a first degree in Physiology.

Walter served in the Royal Air Force, attached to the Epidemiological Research Laboratory at Colindale, North London and, after an appointment as Lecturer to the Department of Medicine at St Thomas’s, he joined LSHTM. This was followed by a year in the Department of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene. Walter returned to St Thomas’s in 1962 and was appointed to Professor in 1968.

It was at St. Thomas’s that Walter developed his academic reputation. He established the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Social Medicine and subsequently the associated Health Services Research Unit with funding from the Department of Health. Walter and his team conducted a large number of studies on epidemiology of chronic respiratory disease, blood pressure, smoking, air pollution and the application of epidemiologic principles to health services research.

Sir Nick Black, Professor of Health Services Research at LSHTM, said: “Walter was one of the founding fathers of health services research in the UK. At a time when there was little interest in or respect for scientific enquiry into how best to organise and deliver care.

“Walter had the courage and persistence to present the case for looking at what were seen as purely political or medical issues through the lens of epidemiology, statistics and other population sciences.

“Many of us have benefited from his pioneering struggles, as has the NHS and the public.”

Walter was an extremely eminent public health Professor. He was much loved and respected by colleagues and will be greatly missed. Our deepest sympathies and thoughts are with his family and friends.

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