Announcing the sad passing of Professor Donald Naismith

Published online: 23 May 2018

Professor Donald Naismith

Professor Donald Naismith
3 April 1929 – 27 April 2018

The Nutrition Society is sad to learn of the recent death of Professor Naismith.

Donald Naismith was Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College London until his retirement in 1993. He was born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire where his father was a colliery manager and later the family settled in Port Seton, outside Edinburgh. His identical twin brother became an architect in Edinburgh, while Don studied biochemistry in the University of Glasgow. He joined the Air Force for a while and then worked for the MRC Nutrition Unit and spent some time in Nigeria.  He moved to the Nutrition Department at Queen Elizabeth College, established by Professor John Yudkin, eventually becoming head of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, after the retirement of Professor Arnold Bender in 1983. His research ranged from protein metabolism, including the influence of energy intake and dietary fat, kwashiorkor in Western Nigeria, nutrition in pregnancy, to the now current topic of whether a high sugar diet promotes over-weight in children and leads to nutrient deficiencies, and with his last PhD student the role of potassium supplementation on blood pressure. As Head of Department he had to deal with the merger of Queen Elizabeth College with King’s College London and the closure of the Food Science section of the department.  In 1990 he stepped down from headship of the now Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, followed by Catherine Geissler.  Professor Naismith was Secretary of the Nutrition Society over the period of the IUNS Congress in Brighton in 1985. He died peacefully at home and is survived by his wife, Trish, son Richard who lives in Florida, daughter Olivia, a radiotherapy physicist at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London and two granddaughters, Margherita (10) and Gisella (8).

A full obituary will be published in the British Journal of Nutrition. The family is planning a memorial service in the future.