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Biographical entry Jones, Sir Francis Avery (1910 - 1998)

Kt 1970; CBE 1966; Hon FRCS; MB BS London 1934; MD; Hon MD Melbourne 1952; DSc Surrey 1980; FRCP; Hon FACP 1985.

31 May 1910
Beccles, Suffolk
Gastroenterologist and Physician


Francis Avery Jones was a distinguished consultant physician and gastroenterologist at Central Middlesex and St Mark's Hospitals. He was born in Beccles, Suffolk, on 31 May 1910, the son of Francis Samuel and Marion Rosa. He was educated locally at the St John Leman School, before proceeding to St Bartholomew's Hospital for his medical studies. He gained the Baly research scholarship in 1936, and it was at his alma mater that he developed his major interest in peptic ulcer and its complications, especially haemorrhage.

Appointed consultant physician to the Central Middlesex Hospital in 1940, he built up a gastrointestinal unit virtually single-handed - the first clinical and research unit in Britain. Aspiring young British and overseas doctors were welcomed to the unit, many of whom later developed their own units, having been taught to be calm, caring and competent physicians. He himself was unflappable and was constantly searching for new ideas, as well as using and evaluating the old: his expertise with the rigid gastroscope was renowned. Basil Hirschowitz, working in his department, realised the advantage of the 'Hopkins' fibre-optic system, but he and Avery were unable to persuade British instrument makers to recognise the future potential in gastroenterology. Hirschowitz left for the USA, where the first flexible fibre endoscope was produced. Avery Jones' unit continued to attract distinguished figures, who worked on oesophageal and intestinal motility and jejunal biopsy, and were also engaged in clinical trials. In the management of peptic ulcer he was fortunate to have Peter Gummer as a surgical colleague.

Avery Jones was also consultant physician to St Mark's Hospital (from 1948 to 1978), to the Royal Navy (from 1950 to 1978), and honorary consulting physician to St Bartholomew's Hospital. He had a special concern for nutrition and was early to recognise the need for dietary fibre; his unit at the Central Middlesex Hospital (where there is an Avery Jones Postgraduate Medical Centre and an annual Avery Jones lecture) is now the department of gastroenterology and nutrition.

He published many books and papers, including two editions of Modern trends in gastro-enterology (London, Butterworths, 1952 and 1958) of which he was editor, and Clinical gastroenterology (Oxford, Blackwell Scientific, 1960) of which he was joint author. Both books gave the specialty a firm foundation for expansion in Britain. Present at the inaugural meeting of the British Society of Gastroenterology in 1937, he was President in 1966, and served as its archivist for many years thereafter. He graced the Society's diamond jubilee celebrations in the spring of 1997. Instrumental in founding the journal Gut in 1960, he was the editor until 1970.

As well as examining for the University of London and Leeds, he served on the medical subcommittee of the University Grants Committee from 1966 to 1971 and from 1975 to 1982 was a council member of the University of Surrey. He made major contributions to the Royal College of Physicians as an examiner, and was second Vice-President from 1972 to 1973. Over the years he gave several eponymous lectures for the Royal College of Physicians, including the Goulstonian lecture in 1947, the Lumleian lecture, the Croonian lecture in 1969 and was Harveian orator in 1980.

His association with the Worshipful Company of Barbers led to his becoming Master from 1977 to 1978, and in the Vicary lecture delivered at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1977 he chose as his subject, 'The Norwich school of surgery'. Reflecting his East Anglian roots, he gave a well-researched historical account from early days through the medieval period and the origins of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, ending with the 20th century contributions of surgeons at this institution.

Avery Jones became President of the sections of proctology and united services of the Royal Society of Medicine, and was President of the Medical Society of London from 1977 to 1978, gaining the latter's Fothergillian gold medal in 1980. He was also President of the Medical Artist's Association from 1980 to 1991 and of the British Digestive Foundation from 1981 to 1992.

An ardent supporter of the NHS until the latest reforms, Avery Jones served on numerous committees, being Chairman of the Emergency Bed Service (from 1967 to 1972) and a member of the Brent and Harrow Area Health Authority. For 35 years he served on King's Fund committees, concerning himself with the quality of hospital care, including records, waiting lists, hospital beds and patients' diets.

Made an honorary member of many overseas gastroenterological societies - American, Canadian, Australasian, French and Scandinavian, he was the first memorial lecturer of the American Gastroenterological Association in 1954, and won the Henry Bockus medal of the World Organisation of Gastroenterology in 1982.

Relaxation came from waterside and herb gardening, which he tackled as systematically as his clinical work, acquiring an extensive knowledge of medicinal herbs. He married Dorothea Pfizter in 1934, by whom he had one son, John Francis Avery Jones, CBE, a lawyer of distinction, born in 1940. On the death of his first wife in 1983, he married K Joan Edmunds.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1998 316 1678, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England