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Leicester Special Collections

Dr Joan Walker (b.1902-d.1995)


Newspaper article on Walker's diabetes study in Ibstock, Leicestershire, 1961.

Joan Walker achieved several ‘firsts’ over the course of her career, including being the first researcher to undertake a population survey in Europe, using the local Leicestershire village of Ibstock to trace and track the prevalence of diabetes in a population of 4000 people. She was also the first woman President of the Leicester Medical Society and the first woman to give the Banting Memorial Lecture in 1966.

Her research is considered both innovative and ‘heretical’ for the time she was working and researching, but has become standard practice in the modern treatment of diabetes.[1] From 1950 to her retirement in 1967 the perinatal mortality rate from diabetes was reduced from 30% to 6.5%. This figure is now even lower, as her methodologies and patient-centred care have been adapted and scientific advancements achieved.

[1] ‘Obituary: Joan Walker’, Practical Diabetes International, (Sept/Oct, 1995), Vol. 12, No. 5, p.226