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New Sub-Dean for Leicester Medical School

Dr Annette Cashmore is shortly to take over as Sub-Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Biological Sciences at the University of Leicester. Dr Cashmore is currently Head of the Department of Genetics, which last year was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize.

Dr Cashmore takes over from Dr Laurence Howard, who has been Sub-Dean since 1990, but whose associations with the University’s Medical School go back much further.

Dr Howard first arrived at Leicester in 1967 as a PhD student in the Department of General Physiology, then under Professor Ron Whittam. He later left to take up a Wolfson Post Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Leeds, but was lured back to the new Leicester Medical School by Professor Whittam in 1974. 

In those days it was a very different Medical School from that of today, as Dr Howard explains: "Our original intake was just 48 students, compared to 200 today, and we effectively had the same number of staff as we do now, so our ability to meet students on a one-to-one basis was greater.

"Another difference was the GMC inspections in those days. We had our first inspection in 1979, and it was a very gentle affair. I remember a biochemist coming from Oxford and sitting in the back of the room. I had been discussing the nerves of the head and neck and had mentioned singing, when he interrupted in a deep booming voice and started talking at length about choral music!"

In the early days medical students had greater exposure to a wide range of practical classes, and used their own bodies as guinea pigs. "They would collect stomach acid by swallowing long tubes,” Dr Howard recalled. “The girls seemed to manage that very well, but the boys had more difficulty."

Dr Howard feels that the training students receive today at Leicester Medical School is second to none. "Because our student numbers have risen we have had to change the delivery of education, but we have achieved that better than any other medical school I know of."

Though retiring as Sub-Dean, he will continue to work part-time in the Medical School, while fulfilling his new role as Lord Lieutenant of Rutland, with responsibility for the cultural, educational and spiritual welfare of that county. This represents the culmination of a lifetime of public service, as Justice of the Peace, Chairman of a Board of Prison Visitors, Chairman of the Rutland Bench, Chairman of the Leicestershire and Rutland Magistrates’ Association and Freeman of the City of London. 

Looking back, the highlights of Dr Howard’s time as Sub-Dean have been the independence his job has given him and the people he has worked with: "It has been a tremendous privilege, and great fun, to have taught so many able young people from so many different backgrounds. Indeed, I have learned as much from them as they have from me. The people in the Medical School have been a splendid bunch, from porters to professors, and I have been fortunate in being able to carve a fascinating career inside and outside the University," Dr Howard acknowledged.

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Last updated: 13 February 2004 15:00
Created by: Barbara Whiteman

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