Journal of Pathology Vol. 119 No. 1 OBITUARY NOTICE
QpriI Zeelie OakIep 20 June 1907 - 27 March 1975
ASSISTANT EDITOR : Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, 1950-55 EDITOR : Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, 1955-68 EDITOR:Journal of Pathology and Journal of medical Microbiology, 1968-73 C. L. 0. was born in London, but soon moved to Portsmouth, where he received his early education at St Mary’s Road School (1913-19); on returning to London in 1918 he attended Westminster City School until 1925. He then won a scholarhsip to University College, London, where he became a medical student. Simultaneouslyhe took night classes in zoology at Chelsea Polytechnic, and published several papers on the taxonomy of copepods. He graduated in medicine and-with first-class honours-in zoology in 1930, and was awarded the Graham scholarship in experimental pathology at University College Hospital. During the next 4 years he worked with A. E. Boycott on the physiology of the circulation and with G. R. Cameron on the pathology of the liver, and obtained the London M.D. degree. In 1934 he joined the Wellcome Physiological Research Laboratories as an experimental pathologist, and worked first in collaboration with the veterinary department on the pathology of lymphomatosis. From this he became interested in the pathology of viral diseases, and began work on distemper in 1935. Very soon he was attracted to the immunology of viral diseases, and in 1937 delineated the antibody response and interference phenomena in mice infected intranasally with influenza virus. After this short excursion into virology, C. L. 0. transferred his main attention to the clostridia. The possibility of a second world war had revived interest in the pathogenic clostridia responsible for gas gangrene. Conditions at the Wellcome laboratories were very favourable for work in this field: there was an extensive collection of clostridial strains, there were facilities for the preparation of large volumes of toxic filtrates and for the production of antisera to them in horses, and the staff had considerable immunological expertise and long experience in the accurate titration of biological substances; and C . L. 0. was fortunate to have as colleagues such people as Ethel Bidwell, Patricia J. PATH-VOL.
CYRIL LESLIE OAKLEY
Clarke, A. T. Glenny, B. C . J. G . Knight, R. G. Macfarlane, Helen Ross, W. G . van Heyningen and G. Harriet Warrack. During the war years he performed a series of outstanding studies on the soluble antigenic products of the clostridia-the lecithinases, the collagenases and the hyaluronidases. He showed his ability to devise and refine methods for the estimation of these substances, and demonstrated their value in the differentiation of the various pathogenic clostridia. In 1943 he wrote his first major review article, " The toxins of Clostridium welchii "; this and succeeding papers on related subjects established his pre-eminence in this field, and showed that he was an author outstanding for his clarity and literary style. Towards the end of this period he became interested in clostridia as causes of diarrhoea1 diseases, and helped to establish the role of certain strains of C. welchii as causes of enteritis necroticans and, with Betty Hobbs, of food-poisoning. After the Second World War, C. L. 0. used the experience he had obtained while working with clostridial antitoxins to study, in collaboration with F. W. R. Brambell, the transfer of antibody from mother to young. He was a great exponent of the value of antitoxins as markers for the transfer of large molecules across membranes and believed that no other marker had the same qualities of specificity and sensitivity, or could be measured so accurately. In 1949, with Harriet Warrack and Irene Batty, he became interested in the sites of antibody production, and used the determination of antibody ratios and tissue transplantation to demonstrate local production of antibody in lymph nodes draining injection sites, in fatty tissues, and in the skin into which an injection had been made; they demonstrated that the local production of antibody might continue for as long as a year. Soon afterwards, C. L. 0. and A. W. Fulthorpe developed the method of double diffusion in one dimension for the analysis of heterogenous antigen-antibody systems. C. L. 0. succeeded J. W. McLeod as Brotherton professor of bacteriology in the University of Leeds in 1952; in the following year he was awarded the degree of D.Sc. by the University of London, and in 1957 was elected F.R.S. In Leeds he had responsibility for a large hospital diagnostic-bacteriology laboratory and for teaching bacteriology to medical and science students. With the passage of time his activities became further diversified, in the university and its teaching hospital, in the affairs of various scientific societies, and as an editor. He nevertheless continued to publish papers with former colleagues on clostridial toxins and various aspects of immunology, and he stimulated a great deal of work on clostridia by younger colleagues in Leeds, notably A. T. Willis. He also collaborated actively with the tetanus-treatment centre in the Leeds General Infirmary. He served on the Agricultural Research Council and the Medical Sciences Committee of the University Grants Committee, and was a founder fellow and the archivist of the Royal College of Pathologists. In 1970 he was appointed C.B.E. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of his life was that pathology formed only one part of it. He had interests in numerous other fields, and in few of these could he be considered an amateur. At successive stages of his life he made himself an expert in a great variety of subjects, and always seemed to have
time to keep up his interest in them. In this he was aided by a phenomenal memory a.nd sustained enthusiasm. His desire to impart information and ideas was not exhausted by teaching microbiology, but led him to conduct numerous classes in other subjects in which he was expert. He had a profound knowledge of Greek and Latin, fluency in French and German, and a good working knowledge of written and spoken Chinese. His mastery of the classics led to deep enquiries into early religious thought, ecclesiastical architecture and iconography, matters on which he gave an annual course of evening classes as part of the adult-education programme in Leeds. His early interest in zoology was maintained throughout his life, and he conducted an annual course in marine biology at Bangor. He taught statistics, was fascinated by the physics of brass instruments-especially of the trombone, which he had once playedand late in life became an authority on science fiction, a subject that he said stimulated him by its originality of ideas. C. L. 0. looked upon himself not merely as a microbiologist but as a pathologist-if this term is used in the British sense. He believed that laboratory medicine was a single discipline, and sought to foster that concept in the Pathological Society. He made a practice of listening to all the papers read at the Society’s meetings whenever the-to him-reprehensible practice of holding parallel sessions permitted this; and it was clear from his contributions to the discussion that he was familiar with the scientific background of most of them. After 5 years as an assistant editor, C. L. 0. succeeded Matthew Stewart as editor of the Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology. He asserted that he was not taught how to do this job, but had learned it by precept and by careful study of earlier issues of the Journal. His policy, in any event, was to preserve the journal’s traditional character, concentrating on the publication of papers of high scientific quality that had been written with “clarity and elegance of expression ” (his own phrase). He believed that it was the duty of editors to assist authors to produce such papers. To work for him as an assistant editor was therefore an arduous occupation, but he set an example of devoting much of his time to helping others to express themselves clearly. His enthusiasm for the job was infectious, and his belief that “ editing is fun ” was transferred to nearly all of those who worked with him, surviving the rigours imposed by his tireless insistence on the elimination of error at whatever stage it was discovered, and his meticulous system of proof-checking. C. L. 0. was at first suspicious of the idea that the Society should publish a separate microbiological journal, because this seemed to run counter to the “ unitarian ” concept of pathology, but when the decision to do this had been taken he devoted himself wholeheartedly to launching the Journal of Medical Microbiology and to training a group of assistant editors for it. The Pathological Society recognises its debt to a great editor, deeply regrets the death of one of its most distinguished members, and extends its sympathy to Mrs Oakley and her daughters. The Editors thank Dr Irene Batty, Dr A. T. Willis and Professor K. Zinnemann for providing them with material for this obituary notice.