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Peter Beighton

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Title: Peter Beighton  
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Subject: South African scientists, List of South Africans, 1934 in South Africa, Tim Noakes, Malegapuru William Makgoba
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Peter Beighton

Peter H Beighton, a medical geneticist, was born in Lancashire in England in 1934 [1] and qualified in medicine in 1957 at St Mary's Hospital, University of London. After several internships, Beighton served as a Medical Officer in the Parachute Regiment and with the United Nations forces during the Congo Crisis. In 1966 Beighton began training in internal medicine at St Thomas' Hospital in London and held a Fulbright research fellowship in clinical genetics in 1968-69 with Dr. Victor McKusick at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, USA.

In 1968 Beighton published a report in the British Heart Journal outlining that air travel can produce "an ideal climate for precipitating deep vein thrombosis". The airlines did not warn passengers and it was only in the early 1990s that the link between long flights and deep vein thrombosis was made public.

Beighton undertook clinical research in the Sahara Desert and epidemiologic studies on Easter Island, Tristan da Cunha and in Southern Africa. In 1972, Beighton was appointed Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Cape Town's Faculty of Medicine. His research was largely on inherited disorders of the skeleton and connective tissues.

Beighton has received several awards including the gold medal of the British Orthopaedic Association, the President's Medallion of the South African Orthopaedic Association, the Smith & Nephew literary award and the silver medal of the South African Medical Research Council. In 2002, he was the first recipient of the newly established Order of Mapungubwe - bronze, which was bestowed for lifetime achievement as a scientist, and for research into the inherited disorders of the skeleton.[2]

He is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London and Edinburgh. Beighton has been accorded Fellowships of the University of Cape Town, the British Society of Rheumatology, the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Society, SA. In 1999, at the age of 65 years he obtained the degree of Master of Philosophy in History by external thesis at the University of Lancaster, UK. Professor Beighton retired with Emeritus status at the end of 1999, retaining his links with UCT, and collaborating with the University of the Western Cape Faculty of Dentistry. In 2014 at the age of 80 years he was still employed part-time in the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences as a Senior Scholar.

Fourteen of Professor Beighton's postgraduate students have been awarded Doctorates, and nine of these have achieved Professorial status. Professor Beighton is the author, co-author or editor of 20 monographs and editions, 34 chapters and more than 400 medical publications.

Peter Beighton and his wife Greta Beighton have a shared interest in the history of medical genetics and have published two unique volumes of brief biographies of people for whom genetic syndromes have been named. Peter and Greta participated in the sport of orienteering for many years, and they were South African champions in their respective age groups on several occasions.


  • The Man Behind the Syndrome. By Peter Beighton & Greta Beighton. Springer Verlag (1986) ISBN 0-387-16218-6
  • The Person Behind the Syndrome. By Peter Beighton & Greta Beighton. Springer-Verlag; (June 1997) ISBN 3-540-76044-X


  1. ^ Birth registered in Bolton Registration District in the third quarter of 1934.
  2. ^

External links

  • Biographical sketch of Peter Beighton with a photograph on the University of Cape Town site
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