Date of death: 24 June 1997
Year James Spence Medal awarded: 1990
Leonard Strang began his clinical training in Newcastle and showed his skills in observing the natural history of disease at the cotside, applying physiological principles to the investigation of disease states, and exploiting basic science in the unravelling of clinical problems; these abilities have been dominant throughout his research career.
He began his research career with the development of respiratory function measurements in normal children compared to those with asthma, and progressed to studying the development and function of the lung in the perinatal period. After working at the Hammersmith Hospital and developing techniques for the measurement of alveolar ventilation in the newborn, he spent time researching the changes in the pulmonary circulation at Harvard and Oxford. Leonard then moved to University College where he developed his systematic studies with a series of elegant experiments on lung liquid, its production, control, and resorption, attaining international recognition for him and his colleagues.
In 1976, Professor Strang gave the Charles West lecture at the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Croonian lecture at the College in 1982. He held the first chair of paediatrics in an undergraduate medical school in London and helped University College Hospital to become a leading institution for paediatric education and research in that university. While Secretary of the Paediatric Committee of the Royal College of Physicians of London he helped push through the Paediatric Part II.
He was known for nurturing younger colleagues and made sure each member of his staff was placed in suitable jobs for their talents. Leonard raised the profile of British paediatrics in other countries, especially in France, where he retired.