Dr. Philip Palmer, pioneering radiologist in Africa, dies

2013 01 15 08 31 02 457 Philip Palmer 70

Dr. Philip E.S. Palmer, a pioneer in promoting the use of radiology and radiation therapy in Africa and developing countries, died on January 3 at the age of 91. He was an adviser to the World Health Organization for 30 years, and was the first recipient of the International Society of Radiology's Beclere Medal.

Palmer was an emeritus professor of radiology at the University of California, Davis (UCD) School of Medicine, where he became its first director of diagnostic radiology when the medical school opened in 1970.

Dr. Philip Palmer died at the age of 91. Image courtesy of UC Davis Health System.Dr. Philip Palmer died at the age of 91. Image courtesy of UC Davis Health System.
Dr. Philip Palmer died at the age of 91. Image courtesy of UC Davis Health System.

Palmer was known for his pioneering work in Africa that began in the 1950s. In 1954, he moved to Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, where he introduced new techniques in diagnostic radiology, including neuroradiology and angiography, as well as in radiotherapy for cancer patients in the region. He also developed rural x-ray services throughout the southern half of Rhodesia over the next decade.

In 1964, Palmer became chairman of the radiology department at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Over the next four years, he reorganized and re-equipped the radiology departments of the university's three major hospitals, revised the postgraduate radiology training program, and acted as examiner for the radiology degrees at three universities.

During his career, Palmer spent 30 years as a consultant and advisor to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. He chaired and participated in 12 of WHO's international committees, traveling extensively throughout the world to promote radiology. He also wrote or co-authored five diagnostic imaging manuals that were translated into multiple languages, along with more than 200 professional articles.

Much of his research covered the design and development of radiology equipment and departments to bring high-quality diagnostic imaging services to the developing world.

The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) honored Palmer with its presidential award in 1994. He received the Roentgen Medal from of the German Radiological Society in 1993. He received the first Beclere Medal and gave the first Beclere Lecture of the International Society of Radiology in China in 1996.

To read more about Philip Palmer's life and career, please click here.

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