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Produced by publishers of The Popular Village Monthly


Denis Stanworth - Obituary


Denis Stanworth, who has died aged 91 of Covid-19, was a pioneering immunologist. For most of his long career he was based at Birmingham University.

Denis was born in the village of Gnosall, the only child of John Stanworth, who worked at GEC in Stafford, and his wife Gertrude (nee Salmon), who sold corsets and read fortunes. He won a scholarship to Adams Grammar School in Newport, Shropshire, and then undertook national service in Hong Kong, where he became involved in research into a disease called Tropical Sprue.

His academic career began in 1949 as an undergraduate at Birmingham University, where he studied chemistry and was an athletics blue specialising in cross-country running. He moved into experimental pathology for his PhD in 1952, before spending 13 months working at Bellevue hospital in New York on a research fellowship.

Returning from the US, Denis became a lecturer in immunology at Birmingham, and was part of a research team that helped to define a new type of antibody, IgE, which helps to block allergic reactions. He then moved into the rheumatology and research unit at the university, and became a senior lecturer and then reader. His book ‘Immediate Hypersensitivity’ which looked at the molecular basis of the allergic response was published in 1973.

Eventually Denis and his research group moved to Aston Science Park in Birmingham and then to Cambridge, where in 1993 he was instrumental in the setting up of a private company ‘Peptide Therapeutics’ which worked on developing an anti-allergy vaccine.

Denis was made a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, and at the end of his career he was awarded a special professorship from Nottingham University, an honour that he treasured.

In 1955 he married Barbara Hollingworth, whom he had met on the dance floor at Birmingham. Three years after his retirement in 1998 they moved to Great Malvern, in Worcestershire. In retirement he pursued his love of photography and the music of Elgar, and he and Barbara made frequent trips to Malvern theatre. His other great interest was his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers football club, whom he first saw play as a little lad, sitting on his father’s shoulders on visits to Molineux.

Barbara died in 2013. He is survived by his two daughters and four grandchildren.

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