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School of thought: Arthur Rose (MB ChB 1957)

Arthur Rose (MB ChB 1957)

In autumn 2013, Rose received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Child Neurology Society

14 September 2015

When Professor Arthur Rose (MB ChB 1957) left communist Poland as an adolescent after the Second World War, he had no idea what awaited in the UK. But his diligence and determination won him a scholarship to study medicine at Bristol University in 1952. In autumn 2013, Rose received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Child Neurology Society.

‘The seven years I spent in Bristol as a student and house physician were some of the happiest years of my life, and I look back at that period with great pleasure and gratitude,’ says Rose. 

Born in Krakow, Poland, Rose’s childhood was completely overturned when Nazis invaded in 1939. Ten-year-old Rose lost his parents, as well as nine uncles and aunts, during the Holocaust. He and his sister were hidden for two years by an elderly Christian couple, friends of their parents, and thus survived the war.

After the Second World War, anti-semitic sentiment continued to permeate Poland but the Communist government would not allow anyone to leave the country. Rose and his sister were fortunate in having a relative in London who sponsored them to join a group of Jewish orphans who were allowed to emigrate to the UK.

After his arrival in England, Rose resumed his education at a boarding school in Kent. He graduated with a school certificate, and was employed by a firm of fur importers in London, while attending evening classes for a Bachelor of Commerce degree. The international fur business was interesting but not exciting. After two years, perhaps due to the influence of his physician relatives – a gynaecologist and a urologist – Rose decided to embark on a medical career.

He worked hard to prepare himself for medical school and in 1952 was accepted by Bristol University with a full fees and maintenance scholarship. He has many fond memories of his years in the south west.

‘I was able to maintain a fine balance between studying hard and participating in the many social and sports activities offered through the Students’ Union,’ says Rose. ‘I made lifelong friends, played an active role on the executive committee of the British Medical Students’ Association and took full advantage of opportunities to spend time at Copenhagen’s Medical School and St. Bart’s Hospital, London as a visiting student.’ 

‘Who can forget the fun of the Rag Day? Or the spelunking weekends with Dr Oliver Lloyd? The skiing and canoeing trips with Mr. Williams? I have nostalgic memories of Saturday night dances in The Victoria Rooms, the formal Galencials’ balls and the jazz club meetings (were they on Brandon or Cabot Hill?).’

After seven years in Bristol, Rose spent a year in London as a senior house officer in paediatrics, before travelling to Boston, US for further postgraduate training in paediatrics and paediatric neurology. ‘The Bristol degree opened many academic doors for me including Harvard, Montreal Neurological Institute, Columbia University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.’

Rose’s interest in child neurology flourished in the USA and he was soon making an impact in clinical and research areas. In 2013, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Child Neurology Society, an organisation he had helped to establish. You can read more about his achievements in the Fall 2013 edition of the society’s magazine, Connections (page 12).

Rose will always have a soft spot for Bristol. ‘In 2007, on the 50th anniversary of our graduation, about a dozen of us managed to attend a class reunion. It was fascinating to reconnect, rehash our career paths and compare our life experiences.’

To mark that occasion, Rose established a travel scholarship which enables a Bristol medical student to spend eight weeks in Rose’s medical school in New York. Professor Rose has also pledged a legacy to support future generations of medical students interested in neuroscience research. ‘It gives me a lot of pleasure to be able to give something back to the University, and to encourage the development of potential future academic neurologists.’