Professor Kenneth William Cross

James Spence Medallist

Date of death: 10 October 1990

Year James Spence Medal awarded: 1979

Professor Cross attended St Mary’s Medical School and, after serving in the emergency medical service, returned to St Mary’s in the physiology department. He was the first to apply objective physiological techniques to the problem of resuscitating newborn babies, and continued in neonatal research. While a visiting professor in San Francisco, he initiated neonatal research with a trio of young paediatricians, which became one of the largest paediatric research groups in the USA.

Kenneth became professor of physiology at The London Hospital Medical College, and obtained a Medical Research. He was known for his fairness and concern of all members in his department. He served on many committees, including as Chairman of the Academic Board. In 1978, he was invited to give the annual review lecture of the Physiological Society, and his papers on neonatal respiratory physiology were admired; many of his publications appeared in the Journal of Physiology.

With his colleagues Richard Dobbs, Tony Jackson, and Bertie Webb of Taunton, he also established the registrar rotation scheme in which the registrar spends a year in neonatal research in Kenneth's department.

Although a physiologist, Kenneth was awarded the Medal due to his fundamental contributions to the physiology of newborns that were so relevant to paediatric practice. His interest in the ethical principles of physiological experiments also made him stand out in his field as he insisted on the strictest ethical criteria.