Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Iolo ab Ithel (Iol) Davies BPharm (London) MSc, PhD, MRPharmS, MPSNI, CBiol, MIBiol, FRSM

(Obituary by Muriel Singleton , Eileen Scott, John Swanton, Jeff Millership and Paul Collier)

It was with very deep regret that colleagues and friends learned of the sudden and unexpected death of Iol Davies on the 13th January 2009. Best remembered in pharmacy circles as a well-respected academic pharmacist, he was without doubt a person of many talents.

Iol Davies was awarded a BPharm degree in 1960, passed the Pharmaceutical Society’s Qualifying Examination (PhC) in the same year and registered with the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.  Teaching and some locum work as a pharmacist preceded his subsequent research studies in Biochemistry at the University of Manchester where he completed a Masters Degree in 1965.  Following this he spent a year at Purdue University, Indiana, USA where he undertook research with Dr. Dalby and Professor Mertz before returning to Manchester to undertake research leading to his PhD on Lysosome Membranes which he completed in 1969. Iolo was a Research Fellow at Liverpool University prior to taking up his appointment in 1970 as a lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry at Leicester Polytechnic.  He transferred to the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University, Belfast in 1979 where he remained until his retirement in 1998.  

Within the School of Pharmacy Iol’s teaching interests were the biochemical/immunological aspects of pharmaceutical chemistry.  His approach to lecturing was always to challenge students to think for themselves and to take responsibility for their own learning.  His aim was to encourage students to develop an interest and enthusiasm in the subject similar to his own.

Iol’s research interests included tumour immunology which commenced initially in his post doctorate period working with Dr. R. Augustin at the Immunology Cancer Research Unit in the Nuffield Wing of the Medical School of Liverpool University.  This research interest continued throughout his career. His other major interest was in pain management control including the use of focused ultrasound.  This work led to the award of a Royal Society Grant enabling collaborative work to be undertaken with the N.N. Andreev Acoustical Institute in Moscow. His research interests led to a range of publications and he contributed chapters to a number of books.

In 1985 he was rewarded with a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Iol’s contribution to research often went beyond his own topic through his willingness to give advice and support to anyone who knocked on his office door.

While at Queens in Belfast he was an active participant in many aspects of University life including service on the University Safety Committee, Academic Council, as a member of the Staff Common Room Committee and he was actively involved in the then Association of University Teachers (AUT).

Iol was an inveterate writer of letters as evidenced by his letters to The Guardian and to Nature and of course he contributed with great frequency to the letters page of the Pharmaceutical Journal.  All of his writings reflected his passion for science and in particular, pharmacy.

True to his Welsh roots, Iol spoke the language fluently and was a member of the Northern Ireland Welsh Society. He was a keen follower of rugby, and had an abundance of musical talents.  In fact, it was through a mutual love of music that Iol met his wife Mary. When he came to Queens, he joined a number of choral and instrumental groups both inside and outside the university.  For the past 20 years he played the violin with the Studio Symphony Orchestra and participated in several music groups, playing a range of instruments.  

In addition to his academic and musical talents Iol also found time to pursue many sporting hobbies.  He was formerly a league squash player and avid mountaineer, scaling many of the challenging climbs throughout the British Isles, laterally he played golf, sailed and was a regular hill walker.  However his greatest sporting interest was skiing which he thoroughly enjoyed.  In fact he had been looking forward to his next trip to the slopes with his wife Mary in early February of this year.

Following his retirement from academic life Iol pursued many interests, he was a keen gardener, and a “green man” long before it became fashionable!  He was still active in pharmacy through his locum work in community pharmacy.  Iol maintained contact with colleagues in the School of Pharmacy at Queens and was the social co-ordinator for what he termed the “Ex-Lecs Group”.  He organised the monthly lunches for the group and it is their intention to carry on the tradition in Iol’s memory.

Iol was widely known, much loved and respected and always a true gentleman. We will remember him for his warmth, kindness, friendliness, well balanced temperament and his dry sense of humour.

He will be greatly missed by colleagues, former students (both undergraduate and postgraduate), family and all his friends.

To his wife Mary and the family circle we extend our sincere sympathy in their loss.



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