Obituary: Professor David Baum

DAVID BAUM was from 1985 Professor of Child Health at Bristol University and, since 1997, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. His enthusiasm for life affected everyone with whom he came into contact, patients and colleagues alike. Those who knew him well will recall many examples of his impact on their thinking, their professional practice and their personal attitudes. But those who only met him once, whether recently or a long time ago, will also remember the experience clearly and with relish.

Born in 1940 into a large close-knit family, he had three elder brothers and a younger sister. After George Dixon's Grammar School and Birmingham University, where he qualified in 1963, he declared his intention to train as a paediatrician by taking the Diploma in Child Health in 1965, and within a year became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians.

In 1967 he was appointed by Professor Peter Tizard to the Paediatric Department at the Hammersmith Hospital, London. Tizard was an astute judge of intellect and character and hand-picked the brightest rising stars to join him in developing the new speciality of neonatology. Rapidly his paediatric department became renowned world-wide and in this David Baum played a major role.

Recognising the importance that biochemistry was to play in unravelling many of the unique problems of immature babies he studied at Chelsea College in the department run by his brother, Harold, for an MSc (Biochemistry). Much of his own personal research, as well as collaborative work and the studies that he later encouraged others to do, stemmed from this wider understanding of basic science.

In 1968 he invented a heat-preserving foil sheet - the "Silver Swaddler" - used to this day to protect vulnerable premature babies immediately after birth from the devastatingly detrimental effects of rapid heat loss. Within a short time he also perfected skills to study the retinae of the tiniest babies and then, in 1969, went to the University of Colorado in Denver, on the first of many visiting professorships. There he carried out a ground- breaking follow-up study of teenagers blinded in the 1950s by the scourge of oxygen toxicity.

While in Denver, as later in Oxford and Bristol, he and his wife, Angela, an artist, enlarged their already considerable circle of friends. Their generous hospitality and delight in social gatherings ensured that a party at the Baums' was an occasion not to be missed. Overseas visitors and all members of the department were made welcome and surprise arrivals of family or friends, often from considerable distances, added special sparkle. As their four sons grew up they joined in the fun and became friends to the children of many colleagues.

In 1972 David Baum moved with the core of the Hammersmith team to the brand new academic department of Paediatrics in Oxford. The then recently opened John Radcliffe Maternity Hospital, adjacent to the relocated Nuffield Institute for Medical Research, was soon to flourish as a leading perinatal centre. With Tizard presiding, Baum and his sparring partner Cliff Roberton formed the focus of an ever-enlarging clinical and research team. Ward rounds in the Nursery were a constant challenge in objective precision. Did we really know? If not, why not, and how would we find out? Research studies blossomed, many leading to critically acclaimed publications. Junior colleagues were encouraged to play a central role.

Baum soon realised how important nutrition is to the future well-being of sick babies. Convinced that even the most immature needed their mother's breast milk, he encouraged a band of ingenious bio-engineers to adapt ultrasonic flow transducers to measure breast milk flow during normal feeding. In 1976 he shared in inventing the Human Milk Pasteuriser, thus extending the benefits of breast milk to premature babies. Modern feeding advice stems from this unique work. In the same year Baum was awarded the Guthrie Medal of the British Paediatric Association for his contribution to paediatric research. The sense of common purpose engendered in this exciting era of modern medicine had long-lasting effects.

His expertise as a profoundly dedicated and caring physician, and his enquiring mind, encouraged and enthused everyone. Even before reaching consultant status Baum had fostered the careers of many who were later to direct departments throughout the world. The success of present-day care of sick and premature babies owes a huge debt to his meticulous pioneering work.

However there were other challenges in Oxford that needed attention. His interest in biochemistry and chronic disorders led him to take on the care of children with diabetes. He co-ordinated previously disparate services into a finely tuned multi-disciplinary team, including a child psychiatrist and community-based specialised nurse, that became a model for others throughout the country. Annual diabetic camps for adolescents became popular events, and in 1985 he published Care of the Child with Diabetes.

His international reputation in childhood diabetes grew and through his well-rehearsed lectures and enthusiastic participation in the European Society of Paediatric Research he made many friends. He was elected Secretary, 1983-87. His concern for families and particularly children with terminal illnesses led to his involvement in promoting the foundation of Helen House, the first children's hospice in the UK, and later the National Association for Care of Children with Life Threatening Diseases and their Families. After becoming Clinical Reader in Oxford he was elected to a Professorial Fellowship at St Catherine's College, where he had a happy association until his appointment in 1985 to the Chair of Child Health in Bristol.

Involved in all aspects of medical student teaching, he also used his consummate political skills to secure the funds needed to transform an unused nurses' hostel into an Institute of Child Health. This has been so successful that it will be relocated into the structure of the new Bristol Children's Hospital due to open next year.

He took on many administrative positions, including the chairmanship of a wide range of national and international executive and advisory boards and university committees but it was through the British Paediatric Association that he was most actively involved, first as secretary, and then chairman, of the Academic Board and as director of the Research Unit.

Frustrated that the unique needs of children were not getting proper recognition by government, Baum became convinced that progress would only come about through the establishment of a Royal College. He played a leading part in promulgating the case and in articulately persuading others. The Royal Charter of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health was granted in 1996 and soon afterwards Baum was elected President. His presidency was marked by a rapid increase in the responsibilities of the fledgling college.

Baum recognised the importance of changes in practice that the profession is undergoing at present and the asset of a rapidly increasing number of women in leading roles in paediatrics. An ambitious college strategy covering all aspects of child health including training, examinations and international affairs was launched. Throughout this time Baum's wise and considered leadership has prevailed. He was elected a founder Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and most recently a member of the General Medical Council.

His death occurred as he was characteristically leading by example on a bicycle ride to raise money for the wellbeing of children in the war- torn Balkans.

Andrew Wilkinson

John David Baum, paediatrician: born Birmingham 23 July 1940; Lecturer, then Clinical Reader in Paediatrics, Oxford University 1972-85, Professorial Fellow, St Catherine's College 1977-85; Professor of Child Health, Bristol University 1985-99, Founding Director, Institute of Child Health 1988- 99; President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health 1997-99; married 1967 Angela Goschalk (four sons); died Harlow, Essex 5 September 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
The Rolling Stones at the Roundhouse in London in 1971: from the left, Keys, Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger

Music ...featuring Eric Clapton no less
Arts and Entertainment
In the dock: Dot Branning (June Brown); Union boss claims EastEnders writers are paid less than minimum wage

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Roger Christian wrote and directed the 1980 Black Angel original, which was lost until 2011

film
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Green (Hand out press photograph provided by Camilla Gould)

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones reviewWarning: Spoilers aplenty
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

    ‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

    Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

    The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

    ... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
    12 best olive oils

    Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

    Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back