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The University of Southampton
Special Collections

MS 353 Papers of Sir Donald Acheson

Sir Donald Acheson

Sir (Ernest) Donald Acheson, KBE, was born in September 1926 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was the younger son of Captain Malcolm King Acheson, MC, MD, and Dorothy Josephine Rennoldson. Acheson was educated at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, and then studied medicine at Brasenose College, Oxford. After qualifying in 1951, he practised at Middlesex Hospital. Between 1957 and 1968, Acheson worked at the University of Oxford: as Fellow of University College, 1957-9; as Medical Tutor, Nuffield Department of Medicine, Radcliffe Infirmary from 1960; as Director of the Oxford Record Linkage Study and Unit of Clinical Epidemiology, 1962-8; and as May Reader in Medicine from 1965. In 1968, he was appointed as Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Southampton and Hon. Consultant Physician, Royal South Hants Hospital, posts which he held until 1983. Acheson was the Foundation Dean of the new Medical School, University of Southampton, 1968-78. He was Director of the Medical Research Council Unit in Environmental Epidemiology, 1979-83, and Chief Medical Officer to the British government, 1983-91. Acheson has sat on a number of boards and committees, including the General Medical Council, 1984-91, the Medical Research Council, 1984-91, the Home Office Advisory Committee on Health of Prisoners from 1992. He has been President of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland (1979) and of the British Medical Association (1996-7). For the years 1992-3, Acheson worked as a Special Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the former Yugoslavia and, in 1997, he was commissioned by the government, under Prime Minister Tony Blair, to chair an inquiry into inequalities in health; this led to the publication of the Acheson Report. He was awarded a KBE in 1986. He died in January 2010.

About the collection

The archive focuses on the professional rather than the personal. Central to this is Acheson’s tenure of the post of Chief Medical Officer for which there are series of files, 1984-91. Other groups of papers include those for: Close the Gap committee, 1993-6; WHO’s European Centre for Environment and Health papers, 1994-8; relating to Yugoslavia and Acheson as WHO’s special representative in Yugoslavia, 1992-9; Chechnya, 1993-6; the Oxford Record Linkage Study, 1989-2000; and as Chairman of the Health Advisory Committee for Prisoners, 1990-9. As well as files relating to research on HIV and AIDS and BSE, there is further material on health inequalities, multiple sclerosis and nasal cancer. There are a series of Acheson’s speeches, 1984-97, and copies of publications, 1964-83.

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97 boxes





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