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Pochin, Sir Edward Eric

  • Pochin, Sir Edward Eric, 1909-1990.
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The collection in no way reflects the entirety of Sir Edward's life's work; he may have discarded much himself when he retired officially. For the most part, the papers suggest that he had decided to keep only those of personal value, a relatively few relating to his clinical research on iodine isotopes and the thyroid gland, and those concerning his current working interest at the time of retirment. This was the 'Index of Harm': in the last ten or so years of his life he was primarily engaged in amassing vast amounts of data and statistics for the purposes of quantifying the risks and harm resulting from exposure to radiation as well as from occupational injuries. Also present are correspondence with Sir Thomas Lewis, 1940-1945, and records of research and treatments in the Medical Research Council Clinical Research Department at University College Hospital, London, 1947-1970s.



Physical description

8 boxes


The collection is arranged into sections as follows:

A. Correspondence

B. Patients and treatments

B.1-5 General

B.6-13 Iodine therapies

C. Radiation

C.1-10 Nuclear power plants

C.11-26 Population/occupational exposure to radiation

C.27-47 'Index of Harm'

C.48 'Fractiles'

D. Risk Assessment

D.1-3 Royal Society Study Group on Assessment and Perception of Risk

D.4-6 'Risk' files

E. Research

E.1-2 Animal experiments

E.3-12 Medical/clinical

Acquisition note

The majority of these surviving papers of Sir Edward Pochin were donated unconditionally as a gift to the Wellcome Library by his son, Charles, and daughter, Sally, in February 1991. The accession formed part of the contents of three filing cabinets which Sir Edward had kept at his home. File A.3 was transferred from the Lewis papers in the Wellcome Library (PP/LEW, acc 56) which had been deposited by Pochin in 1977.

Biographical note

Sir Edward Eric 'Bill' Pochin K.B.E. (1909-1990) was a scientist of international stature: a physician, endocrinologist, radiobiologist , and an acclaimed authority on radiological protection. In his clinical career he was involved with the care of patients, teaching and research, and subsequently with development of protection techniques and the setting of standards and their application.

A biographical summary follows:

1909 22 Sep born

1931 B.A. Cantab. (double first)

1932 Appointed physician at University College Hospital

1935 M.A. Cantab.

1940 Married

1941 Joined Thomas Lewis's Medical Research Council Department of Clinic Research at UCH

1944 Went to U.S.A. under MRC auspices to work on radioactive isotopes, especially iodine

1945 M.D. Cantab.

1946 FRCP

Appointed Director of MRC Clinical Research Department, UCH; promotes work on human thyroid function at UCH

1950 Oliver-Sharpey lecture at RCP on pioneer work in thyrotoxicosis and cancers of the thyroid

1952 Coronation Medal

1956-1982 UK Delegate to UN Scientific Committee on Effects of Atomic Radiation

1957 Investigation into effects of Windscale fire

1959 CBE

Member of the International Commission on Radiation Protection

1962-1969 Chairman of the ICRP

1965-1968 Councillor of the RCP

1969 Drafts ICRP Index of Harm

1970-1982 Member of the National Radiological Protection Board

1974 Retires from Directorship of MRC Clinical Research Department at UCH

1975 KBE

1977 Assessor for Windscale Enquiry

ICRP Radiation Protection Standards published

1978 Appointed by government to inquire into Health and Safety at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston; `Pochin Report' leads to major overhaul of procedures

1981 Royal Swedish Academy Gold Medal

1982 Nuclear Power and the Environment (International Atomic Energy Agency) published

1984 Nuclear Power: Risks and Benefits published by OUP

1990 29 Jan dies

Copyright note

Copyright assigned to the Wellcome Trust

Appraisal note

More than a third of the papers were loose and jumbled, their provenance and original order having been completely obliterated, and eventually 35 files were made up from these loose papers. The remaining material was in no obvious order either, and it too had to be identified and sorted, which was not a straightforward procedure because of the highly technical and specialised nature of the material and because much of the data (which is often undated) was presented in statistical or mathematical and formulaic format. Accurate descriptions at item level proved equally problematic in some instances. When and where necessary, background information and clarification was sought from and willingly given by Dr W Alan Jennings, consultant to the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, Middlesex; formerly hospital physicist (1944-1967), and expert in radiation metrology at NPL (1967-1983). Explanatory notes have been introduced into the catalogue at appropriate points to assist researchers using the collection. Sir Edward habitually kept copies of his outgoing correspondence and these (some marked 'F' for filing) can be found among the documents in relevant items in the list. The use of single quotation marks in item descriptions signify Sir Edward's own file titles. It should also be noted that he used a colour-code system (employing red, green, blue and black biro quite liberally), especially when compiling charts, tables, graphs, and data sets generally.

Ownership note

Reprints, publications and manuscripts of Sir Edward's published articles which originally formed part of this collection were disposed of by his son Charles Pochin.

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