Husain, Oliver Anthony Naseem

  • Husain, Oliver Anthony Naseem (1924-2014)
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


Box files and loose papers, mostly 1970s-1990s though some material goes back to the 1960s and some comes into the 2000s. Many of these are on the same few topics, according to their spines. Particularly well-represented are co-ordinating bodies or campaigns with which Dr Husain was involved: these include CGC (DHSS Committee on Gynaecological Cytology), WNCCC (Women's Nationwide Cancer Control Campaign), IAC (international Academy of Cytology), BSSC (British Society for Clinical Cytology), Royal Society of Pathologists, CAAC (Committee on Analytical and Automated Cytology), ECCLS (European Committee on Clinical Laboratory Standards) and EFCS (European Federation of Cytology Societies). Contents include correspondence by and to Dr. Husain in his capacity as an office-holder in these bodies, conference organisation, etc. Also files on automation of cytology: articles, workshops, conference information etc. Automation of cervical cancer screening is a prominent topic.



Physical description

Uncatalogued: 106 transfer boxes, 15 extracted items and 4 audio cassettes

Acquisition note

Presented by Dr Husain's executors (Mr. Asif Husain, his brother, and Mr Michael McMahon), March 2015.

Biographical note

Dr Oliver Anthony Naseem Husain MD, FRCOG, FRC Path, was a cytopathologist with particular interests in cervical cancer (and other women's health issues) and in the application of technology to his field.

The following obituary was prepared by Mr Michael McMahon, one of his executors:

Dr O.A.N. Husain, who died on 22 September 2014 aged 90, was the UK's first NHS consultant in cytopathology, the microscopic analysis of individual cells for the diagnosis of cancer, precancer and other diseases. As chairman of the Medical Advisory Board of the Women's National Cancer Control Campaign and of the British Society for Clinical Cytology, he was an early advocate of cytological screening for cervical cancer, a practice that evolved into the UK National Health Service Cervical Screening Programme, which saved countless lives. The automated scanners that are used in cervical screening today are descended from a device Dr Husain created in 1965, when he adapted an industrial video scanner to search automatically for abnormal cells.

Dr Husain worked tirelessly to foster and advance cytopathology in the UK and abroad. A founding member of the European Federation of Cytology Societies, he went to great lengths to make it possible for pathologists from Iron Curtain countries to attend its conferences. A member of the International Academy of Cytology and a consultant to the World Health Organisation, he gave lecture tours in every continent.

Oliver Anthony Nasseem Husain was the second of five brothers born to a privileged Anglo-Indian family. His father, a Cambridge double first, was Professor of Mathematics and later Pro-Vice Chancellor of the state university of Hyderabad. In 1939, the brothers were sent to England, where his schooling at Whitgift and studies at King's College, London were punctuated by fire watching and Home Guard duties during the blitz.

His English-born mother had hoped he would become a paediatrician, and offered to build a hospital in India in which he could practice; but he had other ambitions, and in 1947, the year he qualified, much of the family's wealth was lost during Partition, and Professor Husain was killed in the Amritsar riots.

In 1948 Dr Husain married Katharine Wood, a secretary at the Royal Society of Arts, under whose influence he became a Roman Catholic. She accompanied him on most of his lecture tours, during which they often made detours to visit places of Christian pilgrimage. At home, they were regular worshipers at the Brompton Oratory, and for many years they offered practical and moral support to ex-prisoners.

Forward-looking as he was in matters of medical science, in religious and social matters he was an uncompromising traditionalist. In the 1960s, anticipating the liturgical anarchy that would follow the Second Vatican Council, he and his wife were among the first to join the newly formed Latin Mass Society, and they became well known and well loved figures in the international traditionalist movement.

Eminently clubbable and a gracious friend and colleague, Dr Husain was admired not only for his academic determination and integrity, but also for his generosity of spirit, which did much to foster fellowship among cytopathologists around the world.

Katharine died in 1983; there were no children.

Terms of use

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Accession number

  • 2164