Donna Lamping, 1953-2011

June 30, 2011

A Canadian psychologist who settled in the UK, Donna Lamping is remembered as a scholar who brought "light, glamour and style to traditional British academia".

Professor Lamping was born on 12 February 1953 and spent her childhood in Toronto.

She studied psychology at the University of Waterloo and was awarded a doctoral fellowship to study at Harvard University by the Canadian Social Science and Humanities Research Council. Her doctorate, which looked at how patients with chronic illness adapt to stress caused by their condition, led her to work with the Veterans Administration medical centre in Boston, and that combination of laboratory and practical work with patients became the hallmark of her research career.

She went on to teach at McMaster and McGill universities in Canada and Fordham University in the US. In 1992, she was appointed senior lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she would remain for the rest of her career, in a joint appointment with the NHS. In 2009, she was awarded a professorship and made head of the institution's Health Services Research Unit.

Her research interests lay in the area of psychometrics and, in particular, the measurement of patients' perceptions of their condition. She worked with patients undergoing surgery and rehabilitation, patients suffering from dementia and those using maternity services.

Nick Black, professor of health services research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, paid tribute to Professor Lamping's "amazing zest for life".

"She didn't do mundane," he said. "After her arrival at the School of Hygiene, no PhD success could pass without champagne and celebration of the student's achievement.

"I have known few people as caring and interested in others. She took a genuine interest in learning about those she met and worked with, and she took the time to listen."

Professor Black said that, even when gravely ill, Professor Lamping's love of academia remained. "She just got on with life - writing grant applications, completing papers and emailing colleagues from intensive care," he said. "It was a sight that astounded the wonderful staff who were caring for her."

Anne Mills, head of the Faculty of Public Health and Policy at the school, said: "All who met her were struck by her energy and vitality despite her illness, and by the courage she was showing in managing her illness and retaining her enthusiastic approach to life."

Professor Lamping died of bowel cancer on 8 June. She is survived by her husband, Itesh Sachdev, professor of language and communication at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

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