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Biographical entry Hallpike, Charles Skinner (1900 - 1979)

CBE 1958; FRS 1956; MRCS and FRCS 1931; MB BCh London 1926; FRCP 1945.

19 July 1900
26 September 1979
ENT surgeon


Charles Skinner Hallpike was born in India on 19 July, 1900, the son of F R Hallpike and Helen Skinner. He was educated at St Paul's School, entered Guy's Hospital with a scholarship and obtained the Beany Prize in pathology and qualified in 1926. His interest in the ear started when he was a house surgeon to the aural department at Guy's and Cheltenham General Hospital from 1924 to 1927. In 1929 he became Bernhard Baron Research Fellow at the Ferens Institute of Otology at the Middlesex Hospital. In 1930 he was Duveen Travelling Student in the University of London and Rockefeller Travelling Fellow in 1931. He was Fullerton Research Fellow of the Royal Society and Gamble Prize winner in 1934 and Dalby Prize winner in 1941.

Hallpike established the first temporal bone microscopy unit in England and with Sir Hugh Cairns published the first description of the histopathology of Meniere's disease. His unit achieved international acclaim and he was awarded the William J Muckle Fellowship (London University) in 1941; the Gamble Prize for the second time and the Hughlings Jackson Lectureship and Medal (Royal Society of Medicine) 1947; the Barony Medal (University of Upsala) 1958; Guyot Medal (University of Groningen) 1959 and the Dalby Prize awarded jointly in 1958.

In 1940 he became a member of the scientific staff of the Medical Research Council and in 1944, aural physician and director of the MRC Otology Research Unit at the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases. Work in this unit included the development of the Medresco hearing aid, the 'peep show' technique for measuring deafness in young children and the definition of a number of pathological entities previously classified collectively as aural vertigo. A lifelong disability rendered Hallpike unfit for military service in the second world war, but his unique skills were employed as a member of the flying personnel committee at the Air Ministry and at the MRC military research committee as adviser on barotrauma, acoustic trauma and missile effects on armour.

During 1948 to 1952 he was ENT consultant to University College Hospital. He was always interested in precision engineering and he designed many laboratory and clinical instruments including an ear microscope which was later adopted by industry. His output of papers was prodigious and they were noted for their clarity, exemplary English and the generous credit given to his coworkers. In character he was dogged and very determined but still remained loyal and kindhearted. His physical disability did not deter him from competitive sport and he captained the public schools veterans' team at Bisley. In 1935 he married Barbara Lee Anderson who survived him with two sons, one of whom is a doctor. Their daughter died in 1966 and he died on 26 September, 1979.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1979, 2, 1444; Lancet 1979, 2, 805].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England