The Society’s annual John French Lecture is named in memory of an outstanding vascular pathologist from the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at the University of Oxford, who died prematurely at the age of 50 in 1970. The University holds a small trust fund set up shortly after Dr French’s death, which provides an honorarium for the lecture, normally held during the spring meeting of the Society in Oxford. The lecturer is chosen by the Society’s committee after nominations are sought from the membership, and must be a younger scientist of exceptional promise, likely to be beginning to make their mark internationally.
John French was a very early member of the Atherosclerosis Discussion Group (the forerunner of the present Society) and became its secretary in 1963. Working with Lord Florey (a founder of the ADG) and Dr John Poole, his detailed descriptions of atherosclerosis and thrombosis using electron microscopy were among the first to be published, and he was almost certainly the first person to supply morphological evidence of platelet degranulation. As noted in his obituary (1), he produced beautiful pictures of very small arterial thrombi, which requires the care and patience to find the real equivalent of a needle in a haystack amongst sections from fixed tissue. His in depth knowledge and insight into the atherogenic process in different animal species are well illustrated in the influential and extensive review he published in 1966, which is still relevant today (2).
- Poole JCF, Robb-Smith AHT (1970). Lancet issue of June 20.
- French JE (1966). Atherosclerosis in relation to the structure and function of the arterial intima, with special reference to the endothelium. Intl Rev Exp Pathol 5:253-353.