Theodore Chalmers was an exceptional clinician, teacher and leader of UK medicine who worked to establish the Cambridge University School of Clinical Medicine. Now, his legacy and impact on students and colleagues have been honoured with the naming of a lecture theatre at the Clinical School and a new annual medical student prize in his memory funded by alumni.
At the June 10 naming ceremony and official launch of the prize on, several generations of the Chalmers family along with the alumni who were instrumental in establishing the fund in his memory gathered to remember someone who “was always part of the DNA of the School,” according to remarks by the Regius Professor of Physic, Patrick Maxwell.
One of his daughters, Hero Chalmers, said of the tributes that it was “lovely for us to feel that part of him is carrying on.”
During his distinguished medical career, Theo became renowned as an outstanding teacher and mentor. He is especially remembered for his support of medical students — guiding the careers of many and enabling those less well-represented in the medical profession to benefit from Cambridge’s teaching and training.
Theo arrived in Cambridge in 1962 and immersed himself in postgraduate clinical teaching sessions. He recognised the potential for extending medical education and clinical research in Cambridge, which he believed could be best realised by establishing an undergraduate clinical medical school.
In 1975, Theo successfully established the School of Clinical Medicine and was appointed its Foundation Dean — a post he held for four years. During his tenure, he was responsible for the establishment of a pioneering curriculum, still the basis for its teaching now.
Theo died in August 1984. A group of alumni, his former students, have set up a fund in his memory to honour his work and legacy. The generosity shown by many of his former students is a testament to Theo’s lasting legacy.
In their own words…
“Theo has had a massive and lasting impact on countless previous and current medical students and the medical profession by extension.”
— Patrick Maxwell, Regius Professor of Physic and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge
“It was a pleasure to make a contribution in honour of Theo, a great man, who gave me a second chance.”
— Mike Shooter (Clare College, 1963)
“I am very grateful to him for allowing me to realise my life-long ambition of qualifying in medicine. I remember him with great affection. The few early clinical students, of which I was one, had an unparalleled exposure to clinical medicine partly because we were so few and so were able to obtain a wealth of experience which would not be possible now.”
— Jennie Treleaven (what is now Murray Edwards College, 1968)