OBITUARY: Dr Clive Bruton

Clive Bruton was one of Britain's foremost neuropathologists, noted for his work on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, epilepsy and the pathological effects of boxing. As curator of the Corsellis Collection of brains at Runwell Hospital in Essex he looked after the largest brain archive in the world.

Bruton's mother was evacuated to Leicestershire and gave birth to him in 1941 at Lockington Hall, a castle that had been converted into a maternity hospital, although he spent his childhood in Battersea, south-west London. He was educated at Emanuel School in south London, where he excelled at rugby and Eton fives.

He was dissuaded from pursuing a career in marine biology at university by an astute teacher who felt his talents would be better served in medicine, which proved to be of great benefit to neuropathology. He graduated from St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, in 1965 and took up his first house officer post at Rochford Hospital, in Essex, later moving to the Brook Hospital, London. He met Dr Anthony Woolf, a neuro-pathologist, who stimulated his interest in research.

In 1968 he returned to Essex, where he joined the department of neuropathology as a senior registrar at Runwell Hospital, a post jointly held with the Maudsley Hospital, London, and began working with the eminent Professor J.A.N. Corsellis. Together they were involved in a number of valuable research projects, which began with work on epilepsy, published in the paper "The Pathology of the Brain in Epilepsy" (1969). The seminal paper "The Aftermath of Boxing" followed in 1973, which became the driving force behind several significant changes in boxing legislation: the reduction of rounds in world championships from 15 rounds to 12, the compulsory use of headgear in all amateur contests and the total abolition of boxing in all UK schools. Despite his research Bruton refused to condemn the sport outright and in 1995 admitted he still enjoyed watching the occasional bout.

In 1971, he entered general practice, although he retained his links with neuropathological research. He later moved to Birmingham but still returned to complete his research at Runwell Hospital for the much-acclaimed Maudsley Monograph The Neuropathology of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (1988) which was to influence the treatment of epilepsy. He wrote the chapter on epilepsy in Greenfield's Neuropathology (1992).

Together, Corsellis and Bruton worked to establish the Runwell department of the neuropathology as a research centre of growing importance. There followed further work on epilepsy and aging and dementia which attracted considerable national and international attention and led to the establishment of a collection of brains at the hospital. By 1993 they numbered over 8,000.

Bruton made a considerable contribution to the better understanding of brain abnormalities in schizophrenia, and in collaboration with Dr T.J. Crow, at Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, published "Neuropathology of Schizophrenia: I, Global Assessment; II, Lateral Ventricle; III, Gliosis" (1987). At the time of his death Bruton was undertaking further studies into the disease. He was involved with research into Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy and had just published a paper, "Diagnosis and Incidence of Prion (Creutzfeldt-Jacob) Disease: a retrospective archival survey with implications for future research" (1995).

From the mid-1980s until 1995, the department of neuropathology at Runwell had been largely funded by the Medical Research Council, with whom Bruton had established close working relationships. When, in 1994, plans were announced to break up and re-distribute the archive, Bruton was instrumental in ensuring that the custodianship of the department and the material was transferred to Southend Community Care Services NHS Trust, leading to his appointment as curator of the Corsellis Collection brain bank. This change brought further publicity for the department, and for Bruton in particular, who found himself the focus of international media attention.

Despite his contention that the publicity was an intrusion into his work, he was always charming and possessed a unique ability to talk passionately about his work.The quality and originality of the standards he set will remain a lasting legacy to neuroscience.

Rosemary Brown

Clive Joseph Bruton, neuropathologist: born Leicestershire 18 September 1941; honorary consultant, Department of Neuropathology, Runwell Hospital 1986-94, curator, Corsellis Collection 1994-96; married 1965 Dr Ann Udal (one son, three daughters); died Rawreth, Essex 1 February 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy