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Biographical entry Opit, Louis Jonah (1927 - 1998)

MRCS and FRCS 1954; MB BS Adelaide 1949; BSc Warwick 1969; FRACS 1956; MFCM 1985; FFCM 1987.

22 November 1927
Curra Mulka, South Australia, Australia
17 May 1998
General surgeon and Specialist in community medicine


Lou Opit was Professor of Community Medicine at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He was born in Curra Mulka, South Australia, on 22 November 1927. His father, Leon, was a medical practitioner, and his mother was Bertha née Goldman. He was educated at St Peter's Collegiate School, Adelaide, and studied medicine at the University of Adelaide. After junior posts, he went to England to specialise in surgery, and did registrar appointments in the Royal Northern Hospital, Warwick and Colchester, before returning to Australia, to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, as a senior surgical registrar.

From 1959 to 1964 he was a senior lecturer in surgery at the university department of surgery at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, South Australia. During this time he spent a year at Harvard on a Harkness fellowship, where he carried out biochemical research. In 1964, he was made a reader in surgery. Five years later, he was appointed to a special research fellowship at King's College Hospital, London, where he became increasingly interested in the use of computers in clinical practice and research. In his spare time he obtained a first class degree in pure mathematics from the University of Warwick.

In 1970, he moved to Birmingham for six years as a senior research fellow in the department of social medicine, before returning to Australia as Professor of Social and Preventative Medicine at Monash. He went to the University of Kent, Canterbury, as a Professor in 1984. He was widely sought after as a consultant to the Medical Research Council and WHO.

He married Gwendolyn June Gartnell in 1952, by whom he had four children, Leon, Simon, Nicola and Michelle. He and his wife divorced in 1984. He later had a partner, Jan. He died of carcinoma of the pancreas on 17 May 1998, survived by his partner, children and eight grandchildren.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1998 317 1529, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England