Professor Tudor Griffith PhD FRCR (1951–2011)
Professor Tudor Griffith passed away on November 17th 2011 after a brave 10 year fight against a rare haematological condition. Professor Griffith was a long term member of the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at the School of Medicine, and Head of Department since 2001, he was also an influential member of the Cardiovascular Sciences Research Group based at the Wales Heart Research Institute.
Tudor Griffith was born in Gowerton, Wales, on June 2nd 1951. He became a Scholar at Trinity College Cambridge, graduating with a double first in Theoretical Physics in 1972. A research career beckoned, and Tudor started his at the world famous Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, with research into the properties of semiconductors. However, a change of direction saw him returning to Wales to read medicine, qualifying from the Welsh National School of Medicine in 1978. He gained his MRCP in 1981 whilst at the Department of Cardiology, before specialising in Radiology and becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists in 1986.
It is for his enthusiasm of vascular biology that Tudor will be remembered by the scientific community. He made many key and insightful observations advancing our knowledge as to how the inner layer of blood vessels, the endothelium, plays a role in modulating vascular tone and hence blood flow and pressure. Drawing extensively on his mathematical background Tudor and his team explored how biophysical influences were key to integrated vascular control, how the application of nonlinear dynamics ("Chaos Theory") could be used to gain insight into the cardiovascular system, and used as the basis for mathematical modelling of calcium oscillations in a virtual artery. For the last decade Tudor had pioneered the hypothesis that electrotonic spread of a signal originating in the endothelium plays a critical role in arterial relaxation during the periods of oxidative stress that occur during disease states
The importance of his discoveries enabled Tudor to publish research papers in prestigious journals and he received awards recognising the importance of his discoveries. The esteem in which Tudor was held by his peers is reflected in the comments of Professor Lou Ignarro, recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine, upon hearing of Tudor’s passing “I had the greatest respect for Tudor, and he knew it too. This is going to be very difficult for me to overcome. Also, the world of basic research will suffer immensely without anymore contributions from Tudor.”
Tudor played a full part in University life, sat on various Research Management Boards, was a member of Editorial Boards for Scientific Journals and belonged to Professional Societies that reflected his research interests. All this he achieved alongside his clinical speciality as a Consultant Radiologist at the University Hospital of Wales.
Outside of work Tudor was an enthusiastic, and more than competent musician, having written and recorded songs with a number of well known and successful artists in the 1970’s. Most of all he was a devoted family man and his wife Jayne, their sons and his daughter have gained a great deal of strength by the messages of support and sympathy received from his many friends throughout the scientific community. Messages that describe Tudor’s gentle personality, his friendly nature, his brilliant mind but most of all his honesty and integrity as a scientist.
Dr David Edwards, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, School of Medicine.