The English medical oncologist and baritone, John Fletche Smyth, studied at Bryanston School (1959-1963). He sudied medicine at Cambridge University from 1964 to 1970 (M.A.,M.B.,B.Chir.,M.D.). After graduating, he was trained in medical oncology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and the Royal Marsden, London, the NCI and the University of Chicago, USA.
In 1978 John Smyth was appointed to the first Chair of Medical Oncology in Edinburgh. Over the subsequent 30 years he developed multidisciplinary oncology to create the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre that combines laboratory and clinical research with teaching and training, serving a population of 2 million people. Since January 2009 he has served as Emeritus Professor and Assistant Principal for Cancer Research Development.
His research expertise is in experimental therapeutics from drug design through all phases of pre-clinical evaluation to clinical trials, with his major research interest in the development of new anti-cancer drugs. He has served on the UK Committee on Safety of Medicines, the EMEA Scientific Advisory Group for Oncology and currently chair the Expert Advisory Group for Oncology & Haematology for the Commission on Human Medicines. He has have had a particular interest in Palliative Medicine and was instrumental in securing the funding and subsequent establishment of the first Chair of Palliative Care within the University of Edinburgh. His current interests are focused on the affordability of cancer related healthcare.
John Smyth has published over 300 papers and was Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Cancer, UK from 2001 to 20110. He is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and London, and fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and is a past-president of the European Society of Medical Oncology and the Federation of European Cancer Societies.
John Smyth was an international singer with the Monteverdi Choir under the very demanding conductor John Eliot Gardiner, and he is possibly the only medical oncologist to have sung on stages from La Scala to the Lincoln Centre. Indeed, he went to the Cambridge University on a choral scholarship, but chose to read natural sciences. “I decided not to pursue music, largely because I had a brother who was a child prodigy on the piano and didn’t want to compete with him.”