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Dr Denis D’Auria (1946-2010)

Dr Denis D’Auria

Denis D’Auria, who was Senior Lecturer in Toxicology and Occupational Medicine in Cardiff University from 2003 until 2009, died in late March 2010.

Denis was born in London to Italian parents, and trained in medicine in Trinity College Dublin, qualifying MB BCh, and BAO in 1970. During his training, he obtained honours in toxicology, a subject which was to remain of great interest to him throughout his career. He also obtained an MD in 1976 from Trinity. In 1974 he became a Medical Officer for the European Commission and Head of Laboratories at the Joint Research Centre of Euratom, Ispra, in northern Italy, where he first gained experience in nuclear safety. During that time, he led an emergency team to the earthquake zone in Udine. In 1977 he was appointed to a post within the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell, where he obtained further experience in nuclear safety and an even greater understanding of radiation and health.

He was appointed to his first consultant post in the NHS in the South West Thames region in 1984. He then became Chief Medical Officer at the Midland Bank from 1992 until 1997, after which he returned to the National Health Service as Consultant Occupational Physician at Bart’s and the London NHS Trust. There his interest in medical education and teaching had an outlet. Denis designed and delivered special study modules in toxicology and in "Doctors’ health" as well as an introductory module in occupational medicine for final year medical students. His interest in medical education prompted him to study for a Diploma in Medical Education, which he obtained from the University of Dundee in 1989.

Denis' first link with Cardiff began when studied for a Master in Laws, which he obtained in 1992. Then in 2003, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Toxicology and Occupational Medicine in Cardiff University and Honorary Consultant in Occupational Medicine in Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust. In his academic role, he set about introducing important areas of occupational medicine into the undergraduate medical curriculum. He introduced a student selected component, which he christened “Old King Coal” involving an enjoyable visit to Big Pit! In his clinical role, he provided occupational health services at University Hospital Llandough and led an occupational and industrial toxicology outpatient referral service there.

Throughout his career, Denis had been a busy writer as well as a successful journal Editor (he was Editor of Occupational Medicine for 18 years).  However, he had always wanted to improve training opportunities in occupational medicine at postgraduate level. Once in Cardiff and with great resolve and determination, he set about designing, writing the learning materials,  obtaining approval for, and eventually launching (in 2006) an innovative web-based MSc in Occupational Health (Policy and Practice).  This successful course continues to recruit doctors and nurses from the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Denis was in demand as an examiner, and he served as senior examiner for both the Associate and Diploma levels of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. He was also External Examiner for the MSc in Occupational Medicine in the University of Manchester.  In 2002 he was made a Fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and five years later he was appointed to the post of Academic Registrar for the Faculty there. He immediately reviewed, restructured and in the process, revitalised the examination system for the Faculty in Ireland.

Denis’ wide range of experiences, ready wit and skill as a raconteur made him an engaging teacher as well as a stimulating companion, colleague and friend. Ill health resulted in his early retirement but he remained active in medical and educational matters. He will be dearly missed by his friends and family, and especially by his beloved wife Eithne, and his children Ronan, Deirdre and Colum and daughter in law, Natalia. Just a few weeks before he died, he experienced the joy of the addition to the family of his first grandchild, Enzo.

Philip Routledge, Head of the Section of Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Toxicology, Cardiff University

Michael Glenn, Hon. Senior Lecturer, Section of Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Toxicology, Cardiff University