1994 – Textbook of Hypertension published
Born and raised in Leicester, John Swales was invited in 1974 to become the Foundation Professor and Chairman of Medicine at the University of Leicester’s brand new Medical School. Between that time and his retirement in 1996, he guided his fledgling department from humble beginnings to one that became internationally respected, particularly in his own specialist field of hypertension.
He lectured on the need to apply non-clinical science to clinical work and training, while recognising that “in the end it is the individual patient and what happens to him that matters”. He was an advocate of applying a breadth of knowledge, beyond the disciplines of science and medicine, and turned to literature, philosophy and art to achieve this balance – an idea which is reflected today in Leicester’s Centre for Medical Humanities. Importantly to him, with the formation of the Medical School, came both direct and indirect benefits to the population of his native city, Leicester, through investment and improvements in the local provision of healthcare.
Swales was on the founding committee of the British Hypertension Society and served as its second president. He held a number of positions including serving on the council of the International Society of Hypertension, fellow of the American Council for High Blood Pressure Research and honorary fellow of the Australian Blood Pressure Council.
Of the numerous books which bore his name, the most significant was the Textbook of Hypertension which he edited in 1994. This massive volume collected together all existing data in the expanding – and contentious – field of hypertension study. The BMJ’s reviewer noted that the previous definitive work on the subject, published in 1968, included 1,760 literature references but that Swales’ magnum opus had more than 10,000. The Society of Authors named the Textbook of Hypertension ‘Medical Book of the Year’.
Professor John Swales passed away in 2000 but his work lives on, not only in the University’s world-leading Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and our recently opened Cardiovascular Research Centre, but in the annual John Swales Lecture, inaugurated in 2012.