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Muriel (Molly) Lina Newhouse, MD: British doyenne of occupational medicine
  1. D F Salerno1,
  2. I L Feitshans2
  1. 1Pfizer Global Research and Development, Ann Arbor Laboratories, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
  2. 2Adjunct Faculty, Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Albany, NY, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Deborah F Salerno
 2800 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA;

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2 September 1912–15 February 2000, Country of birth: South Africa

Besides nearly 30 years of research on asbestos, Molly Newhouse was an expert on occupational dermatitis, including Dogger Bank Itch, asthma associated with proteolytic enzymes, and respiratory disease among shipyard welders. Her meticulous investigations led indirectly to legislation that banned asbestos.

A pugnacious personality, Newhouse was drafted into the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in the UK, France, India, and Singapore, and demobilised in 1946, as colonel, the highest rank then attainable for a woman medical officer.

“For every 10 minutes by the bedside, 50 were spent on paperwork.”

In 1965, her first published work on mesothelioma outlined occupational and domestic exposure to asbestos in the London area (reprinted in 1993, as an example of the best in scientific writing). Newhouse also showed that smoking and asbestos exposure had a multiplicative effect on lung cancer, but no such effect on mesothelioma.

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(photo courtesy of Anthony Newhouse)


The authors gratefully acknowledge the insight and generous contributions of colleagues Geoffrey Berry, William Dixon, David Douglas, Malcolm Harrington, and family Penny Butler, Mrs Margery Corbett, Heather Joshi, and Letty Mooring, for interviews, obituaries, and source documents.

2 September 1912–15 February 2000, Country of birth: South Africa