4th Jan 1928- 30th Jun 2016

Theodosius Poon-King
T+T Icons In Science & Technology Volume I

Theodosius Poon King was born in Biche, Trinidad on January 4th 1928. He attended Arouca Boys R.C. School and St. Mary’s College. In 1946, he won the Classics Open Scholarship. He studied medicine at the University College Dublin (National University of Ireland) and graduated with the Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery in 1953.

He interned at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin and obtained his Bachelor of Science in Pathology and Physiology from the National University of Ireland (1955). He was a house physician at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London (1955-1956) and Medical Registrar at the University College Hospital, Jamaica (1957-1958).

His studies in endocrinology under Professor O’Donovan in Ireland and Professor Fraser in London inspired his passion for research. Appointed to San Fernando General Hospital in 1958, he researched and published the first report on scorpion stings and myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). He spearheaded research on the “Prevalence and natural history of diabetes in Trinidad” in a nation-wide survey (1960-1961).

As a graduate student in cardiology at Harvard Medical School, Boston (1962-1963) he worked on a team which reported new risk factors for coronary heart disease including low HDL cholesterol and abnormal fat tolerance. He returned to work in internal medicine and cardiology at San Fernando (1961 – 1988).

In 1965, his research on an acute nephritis epidemic in South Trinidad identified a new streptococcus, M type 55 as the cause. The M type 49 and three other new streptococci were also discovered in this study. The Streptococcal Disease Unit, which he headed from 1966 to 1988, continued surveillance, treatment and control measures leading to the virtual disappearance of the disease.

In 1974, he pioneered research on paraquat poisoning with Dr. Rasheed Rahaman and designed a special treatment protocol which he later modified in collaboration with Dr. Edward Adoo. He diagnosed the first patient in a 1977 yellow fever outbreak and enabled demonstration of the live virus in the liver for the first time.

Dr. Poon King received many honours, including the Chaconia Medal (Gold) from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (1975) and a doctorate in medicine from the National University of Ireland for published research (1972).

To young persons, he offers four watchwords: self-discipline, enthusiasm, will power and hard work, noting that one should always develop a passion to work and to excel.

He passed away in 2016, at the age of 88.

 

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