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Biographical entry Wallace, David Mitchell (1913 - 1992)

CBE 1978; MRCS 1937; FRCS 1939; MB BS 1938; MS 1948; LRCP 1937.

8 May 1913
11 January 1992
Urological surgeon


David Wallace was one of the foremost urological surgeons in Britain after the second world war, and his work with Dr Roger Pugh at the Institute of Urology led to important advances in our understanding of urological malignancies. Working with Julian Bloom he also set up a multi-centre trial for the treatment of bladder cancer using combined radiotherapy and surgery.

He was born on 8 May 1913 and educated at Mill Hill School and University College Hospital. He took a BSc (hons physiology) in 1934 and qualified in 1937, subsequently taking his FRCS diploma in 1939. During the war he served with the RAF in North Africa (1940-43) commanding a field hospital, where he was mentioned in despatches and awarded a military OBE. Later he served in Normandy until 1945.

He was appointed resident surgical officer at St Peter's Hospital, London, in 1947 and became personal assistant to Terence Millin, helping Millin to make the first cine-film of his new operation of retro-pubic prostatectomy. Later he was appointed consultant urologist to St Peter's Hospital, the Royal Marsden Hospital, the Chelsea Hospital for Women and Manor House Hospital.

David Wallace was an imaginative and innovative surgeon, an enthusiastic teacher with the great gift of being able to encourage and stimulate others. With Pugh, he introduced a logical system of grading and staging bladder tumours which allowed their rational treatment, and he also helped to introduce cytological screening of urine in this condition. He set up the Testicular Tumour Panel and Registry to which specimens of testicular tumours were sent from all over the country. These important contributions were recognised by his membership of many international societies, the award of the St Peter's medal of the British Association of Urological Surgeons, and the Presidency of the Section of Urology of the Royal Society of Medicine.

He retired from the NHS in 1974 at the age of 60, and was appointed Professor of Urology in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he stayed for four years, setting up a new department and investigating bilharzia. He was awarded the CBE in 1978 for diplomatic and political services in Riyadh, and was twice Hunterian Professor of the Royal College of Surgeons, in 1956 and 1978.

David Wallace was a man with a delightful sense of fun and friendliness, and his hobby was building and driving sports cars. He married Noƫl in 1940, and they had one son, Michael, who became a urologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, and three daughters, Carolyn, Emily and Isabella. He finally retired to Cornwall and died there on 11 January 1992 at the age of 78.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 22 January 1992; BMJ 1992 304 772, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England