|Description||Crofton was born in Dublin, Ireland where his father was a doctor. He graduated from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, England in 1933. From Cambridge he went to St Thomas' hospital, qualifying in 1937, and after junior posts, he served as a medical specialist in the Royal Army Medical Corps in France, Egypt, Greece, Eritrea, Malta and Germany, using his experiences of typhus for his MD thesis in 1946.|
After demobilisation, he worked at the Royal Brompton hospital, London, from 1947 to 1949, partly in the tuberculosis unit of the British Medical Research Council, and was in charge of early trials of the antibiotic streptomycin. He moved to the Royal Post-graduate Medical School at the Hammersmith hospital from 1947 to 1951, first as lecturer then as senior lecturer with consultant status. In 1951 he was appointed professor of respiratory diseases and tuberculosis at Edinburgh University, later becoming dean of the faculty of medicine and then vice-principal.
When he moved to Edinburgh, Scotland the treatment of TB was in a desperate state. There were huge waiting lists for hospital admission, many deaths, and the correct use of the new drugs PAS (para-aminosalicylic acid) and isoniazid in relation to streptomycin was unclear. Within a year or so John had revolutionised the situation, getting more beds and more consultant appointments, and with the support and enthusiasm of his colleagues, the Edinburgh model of multiple drug treatment was developed.
The triple-drug regime ensured that the TB organisms did not become resistant to the treatment, and people could be cured without the need for surgery. Indeed, a cure was possible without the need for a stay in hospital, and despite some initial disbelief at the remarkable results, the Edinburgh system was adopted worldwide. New TB cases were sought using a mass miniature radiography campaign in 1957, and the prevalence of TB fell rapidly - nowhere more so than in Edinburgh, Scotland.
During his time in Edinburgh, Scotland, John's research and public health interests broadened, particularly towards the prevention of disease by reducing smoking. He was one of those responsible for starting ASH-UK (Action on Smoking and Health) and also ASH Scotland (in 1973), of which his wife Eileen, whom he married in 1945, became the first director. He was delighted when these medically-based organisations helped achieve legislation restricting tobacco promotion and the ban on smoking in public places, with Scotland leading the way in the UK.
His other achievements included brokering the amalgamation of the British Thoracic Association with the Thoracic Society to create a single British Thoracic Society; a distinguished presidency of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh; involvement in the founding of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP); some 50 years as a council member of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland; and prominent roles in the Britain-Nepal Medical Trust and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.
He died on 3rd November 2009.
[Source: The Guardian, 18th November 2009]
Contents: Autobiographical articles, c1996-2008; papers relating to his early life, 1939-1947; administrative files on community projects, 1954-2002; reprints of articles by Crofton, 1939-2006; papers on tuberculosis, 1978-2006; papers on tobacco, 1982-2006; papers on crime and violence, 1985-2000