Dr. Philip Palmer helped spread medical X-ray technology in African nations.

Obituary: Dr. Philip Palmer pioneered radiology techniques in Africa, taught at UC Davis

Published: Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4B
Last Modified: Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013 - 8:36 am

Dr. Philip E.S. Palmer, a noted UC Davis radiologist who influenced improvements in medical imaging in developing countries, died Jan. 3 after a brief illness, his family said. He was 91.

Dr. Palmer was a radiology professor for 20 years at UC Davis. He joined the faculty in 1970 as the first radiology department chairman at the medical school and received teaching awards in 1983 and 1987. He also served as director of diagnostic radiology at UC Davis Medical Center.

He previously was a pioneering radiologist in Africa. He settled in 1954 in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, where he introduced new radiological techniques and helped improve standards of care in rural areas. He also led the radiology department at the University of Cape Town in South Africa before moving to the United States in 1968 to teach at University of Pennsylvania.

After retiring from UC Davis in 1990, Dr. Palmer spent many years as a consultant for the World Health Organization in Geneva. He traveled and wrote reports urging better radiological training and equipment in developing countries in Africa and Asia. He led a modernization of radiological education and practices in Romania following the end of communism.

Born April 26, 1921, in London, Philip Palmer drove ambulances during German air raids on the English capital and treated casualties in the D-Day landing at Normandy in World War II. He earned a medical degree from the University of London in 1944.

Dr. Palmer belonged to many professional organizations. He was given the 1993 Roentgen Plaque, an international award, for his advocacy for radiological services in poor countries. He received the Béclère Medal, the highest award of the International Society of Radiology.

An avid photographer and African art collector, Dr. Palmer lived in Davis with his wife of 44 years, Miep, an anthropologist and African art historian. The couple donated more than 500 pieces of tribal art – including headrests, dolls, furnishings and other artifacts – to the Crocker Art Museum.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two children from a previous marriage that ended in divorce: a daughter, Alison Leake of England, and son, Robin of South Africa. He also is survived by three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

No services are planned.

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