@Epidemiologists, Timeline and Childhood
Janet Lane-Claypon born at
In 1929, Janet Lane-Claypon married Sir Edward Rudolph Forber after a long period of courtship. As was the practice in those times, she left her successful career soon after her wedding and settled in Seaford, Sussex, with her husband. Her last paper was published in her married name.
At Seaford, she lived for several years, leading a quiet domestic life. She died there on 17 July 1967, at the age 90.
Janet Elizabeth Lane-Claypon was born on 3 February 1877 in Boston, Lincolnshire, UK. Her father, William Ward Lane-Claypon was a wealthy banker and a magistrate. Her mother was Edith Stow Lane-Claypon.
Not much is known about Janet’s childhood except that she was an intelligent girl and had her early education at home. In 1898, she entered University College, London, where she studied physiology with Ernest H. Starling, an outstanding British physiologist, known for his fundamental contributions to this subject.
In 1902, Janet Lane-Claypon graduated from University College with first class honors, receiving a gold medal and an exhibition for her research on rabbit ovary. Thereafter, she started working for her doctoral degree.
Working with E.H. Starling and E. A. Sharper-Schafer, she received her Doctorate of Sc in Physiology in 1905. Her thesis was on the developmental histology of the ovary and the hormonal control of lactation. Later, the work was extensively cited by Francis Marshall in his 1910 textbook, ‘The Physiology of Reproduction.’
Not satisfied with what she had so far achieved, she joined the London School of Medicine for Women, receiving her MBBS in 1907 and MD in 1910. Thus she became an early example of the “Doctor-doctor” phenomenon, not at all common at that time.
In 1907, soon after receiving her MBBS, Janet Lane-Claypon joined the staff of the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine as a research scholar. Financed by a scholarship from British Medical Society, she began her research on the bacteriology and biochemistry of milk.
Her research revealed the presence of hemolytic factors in the milk and also the effect of heating on bacterial contamination. More importantly, it refuted the commonly held belief that heating destroyed the nutritional values of milk. Much of the work was later published in a book form.
In 1909, she received a Jenner Fellowship from the Lister Institute to study maternal and child health programs in Europe. She first investigated the effect of the ‘Poor Law’ on the children of the economically backward class in England and then travelled to Germany to visit the facilities at Berlin.
After comparing the rate of child mortality in England and Germany, she advocated adoption of ‘Kindersyl’, the German welfare policy for children. The work was published in 1910 as ‘Poor-Law Babies in London and Berlin.’ From this point, she was identified as an advocate of child-care reforms.
Also in 1910, Janet Lane-Claypon was appointed as a lecturer of physiology and hygiene at Battersea Polytechnic. Concurrently she continued with her research on child welfare, often travelling to Sweden and other countries.
For her research she worked on two cohorts of babies; one breast-fed and the other fed with cow’s milk. Using statistics, she showed that the babies that were breast-fed gained weight faster than the other category. Subsequently, she became an advocate of breast feeding and improvement of midwifery.
In 1912, she left her job at Battersea Polytechnic and joined King’s College for Women as a lecturer.
Concurrently, she also worked as the Assistant Medical Inspector at London Government Board from 1912 to 1916.
In 1916, she became the Dean of the Household and Social Science Department at King’s College for Women, a post she held until 1923. Also in 1916, she was commissioned by Medical Research Committee to write a book on infant feeding. This was in recognition of her long research in this field.