26 June 2012

Dr. Betty Dowsett 1920-2012

Dr. Elizabeth Dowsett passed away 14th June, aged 91, and her loss is keenly felt by the ME patient community. IiME Charity said,

“Her voice was a constant force in support of ME and ME patients over the years”.

Born in Newport Gwent, Dr. Dowsett studied medicine at Edinburgh University and worked as a GP in London before becoming a consultant microbiologist. She developed considerable experience and expertise in ME, seeing thousands of patients from the 1960s onwards, and working with other experts in the field, such as Dr. John Richardson and Dr. Melvin Ramsay.

Following her retirement, Dr. Dowsett continued to lecture and advise patients and professionals about ME. She worked with Jane Colby of The Young ME Sufferers Trust on a ground-breaking study into ME as the cause of major long-term sickness absence from school, published in 1997. In 2001, she was the key speaker at the launch of the Welsh Association of ME and CFS Support in the National Assembly and continued as an adviser to WAMES.

Dr Dowsett attended the very first IiME conference as Invest in ME's guest of honour and her name will be found in innumerable articles and references on ME on the IiME website. In this article, co-authored by Jane Colby, Dr. Dowsett wrote:

“In the absence of a straight cure for ME, researchers have focused on psychological therapies, touted as cures by irresponsible practitioners and reported as such in the media. Like Invest in ME and The Young ME Sufferers Trust, I believe that enough is enough. It is time to focus attention on the physical nature of the illness, and particularly in my opinion, on the microbiology as well as the host factors and the effects. Early identification of infecting organisms, especially in children, who are the epicentre of this illness, is vital”.

Dr. Dowsett had an interest in human enteroviral infections and co-authored a paper published in 1990 titled Myalgic encephalomyelitis – a persistent enteroviral infection?  From the Abstract:

“This illness is distinguished from a variety of other post-viral states by an unique clinical and epidemiological pattern characteristic of enteroviral infection. Prompt recognition and advice to avoid over-exertion is mandatory. Routine diagnosis, specific therapy and prevention, await further technical advances.”

One of the first studies planned by Invest in ME at the centre of excellence in East Anglia will be on enteroviruses.  The Let's do it for ME campaign is helping to raise funds for this research, and we are pleased to able to announce today that we have just reached half-way mark to our initial funding target for the research strategy to begin. We are proud to be playing our part in helping Invest in ME charity to take this important work forward and we thank you and everyone taking part for your support.

Dr. Dowsett's funeral takes place on Friday, 29th June. Her family have asked that donations be made directly to the ME charity of choice in place of flowers. Cards may be sent to:

The Family of Betty Dowsett,
c/o The Cottenham Court Nursing Home
High Street
Cottenham
Cambridge
CB24 8SS (but do not send donations with your cards)

Please click  here for options to donate to Invest in ME for biomedical ME research.

Our sincere condolences go Dr. Dowsett's family and our grateful thanks to them for thinking of ME patients at this sad time.

Thank you also for your support.

The Team at Let's do it for ME.