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Biographical entry Yoffey, Joseph Mendal (1902 - 1994)

MB BS Manchester 1924; BSc 1926; MD 1928; MSc 1929; FRCS 1932; DSc 1944; Hon LLD 1973.



Joseph Mendel Yoffey was a professor of anatomy at the University of Bristol and a pioneering investigator into lymphoid tissues and bone marrow. He was born in Manchester in 1902 into an orthodox Jewish family and was educated at Manchester Grammar School. He went on to study medicine at Manchester University, qualifying in 1924. He continued his studies at Manchester, gaining a BSc in 1926, an MD in 1928 and an MSc in 1929. During this period, he held the Leech research fellowship and a British Medical Association research scholarship.

After a year as a house surgeon at Manchester Royal Infirmary, he began his career as an anatomist. He was an assistant lecturer in anatomy at Manchester, then a senior lecturer at University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, Cardiff. In 1940, he was appointed as professor of anatomy at the University of Bristol and led the department there for the next 27 years.

His first publication, in 1929, was on the comparative histology and cellular constituents of the fish spleen. He later focused on the lymphoid system. In 1940s he became interested in the lymphocytes in mammalian bone marrow. He also collaborated with American colleagues. From 1937, he spent two years with C K Drinker at Harvard University, studying the role of nasal lymphatics in the spread of poliomyelitis viruses. They went on to write Lymphatics, lymph and lymphoid tissue. Their physiological and clinical significance (Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press, 1941), which became a classic text and was revised twice (with F C Courtice).

At the Royal College of Surgeons, he was a Hunterian Professor (in 1933 and 1940), an Arris and Gale lecturer (in 1960) and a recipient of the John Hunter meal (in 1967). He was awarded an honorary LLD by the University of Manchester in 1973. He was made an honorary life member of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and the American Association of Anatomists.

After reaching retirement age in the UK, he settled in Jerusalem, where he became a professor at the Hadassah Medical School.

Joseph Mendel Yoffey died in 1994. He was survived by his widow, Betty, their three daughters, Judith, Deborah and Naomi, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Sarah Gillam

Sources used to compile this entry: [J Anat 1994 Dec; 185(Pt 3): 677-8 - accessed 12 April 2017; Lymphology 28 (1995) 50 - accessed 12 April 2017].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England