21 Feb Vale Professor James Malone-LeeReading Time: 3 minutes
Thousands of hearts around the world broke at the news of Professor James Malone-Lee’s passing in the early hours of Saturday morning after a short illness forced his retirement from researching urinary tract infections (UTI) and treating patients.
In a surprise announcement in mid-January, Professor Malone-Lee, affectionately known by all as ‘the Prof’, informed his Twitter followers he would be taking a break from his account for some months. A short three weeks later, in a shocking yet stoic tweet, Professor Malone-Lee broke the sad news that he would be retiring permanently due to a terminal illness.
This is a little inconvenient. I learn that I have metastatic carcinomatosis, from which I cannot survive. As to a soul-stirring miracle cure, we have not got the resources. My mind is becoming less sharp so I shall now retire from this feed permanently. Thanks for following.
The shock announcement drew acknowledgement from thousands of people, with hundreds of emotionally charged responses from saddened colleagues, students and patients from all over the world.
One patient commented:
Prof, the replies here are testament to you as a wonderful, warm, genuine and humorous human being, as well as the most amazing, thoughtful physician. I remember the first time I came to see you, I felt safe at last. Thank you from so many. Sending love to you x
Another colleague said:
Prof, I am so sad to hear this. Thank you for everything you have done for patients, clinicians and researchers. Thank you for having faith in me and being a fabulous and inspirational supervisor. I have learnt so much from you! Sending much love to you and your family.
Professor Malone-Lee is best known for pioneering research into the development of a scientifically validated treatment for patients suffering recurrent UTI and persistent lower urinary symptoms (LUTS), described in a 10-year patient study published in 2018. His treatment formed the culmination of more than 40 years of experience treating patients with bladder conditions and researching LUTS at University College London (UCL).
His strong belief in basic science being “the foundation of modern medicine”, along with his devotion to helping patients through his clinical research, led to the realisation that urodynamic studies and diagnostic and treatment protocols for UTI were severely limited.
Often referring to LUTS as an “orphan disease” and frustrated by the patient neglect he was witness to, he developed an effective and efficacious way to diagnose and treat UTI in a patient group who had been failed, even abandoned, by the health system on a global scale.
Professor Malone-Lee established an enormously well-attended NHS tertiary clinic at the Whittington Hospital attached to a thriving academic translational science unit at UCL, and was responsible for treating thousands of LUTS patients to date. The clinic attracted a proportion of private patients travelling from other countries, including Australia, to get a diagnosis and effective treatment not available in their own countries.
His determination to adhere to the science and question medical orthodoxy sometimes put him offside with the establishment, including the NHS. This saw a brief closure of the public clinic in 2015, before reopening five weeks later following an outcry from hundreds of furious patients and a successful High Court challenge.
After retiring from the NHS clinic in 2018 and handing the reins over to Dr Rajvinder Khasriya, he founded a busy private practice in London and continued treating chronic UTI patients from the United Kingdom and all over the world. In recent years, Professor Malone-Lee’s chronic UTI treatment has become more accessible to Australians through the introduction of an online consultation service for international patients and their local doctors.
Professor Malone-Lee super-charged his efforts, staying heavily involved in research and promoting the science of chronic UTI in his ‘spare’ time, while concurrently supervising the training of the team of doctors and lab technicians based at the private clinic, and mentoring many more.
After partially retiring to a more ‘human pace’, Professor Malone-Lee remained actively involved in research. He continued treating remote patients at the private clinic (many of whom are international), and supported, guided and mentored colleagues and clinicians at the clinic, as well as countless clinicians from other countries.
During this time, he wrote the long-awaited book ‘Cystitis Unmasked’, published in 2021, which outlines much of the science behind his method of treatment for LUTS. In his book he makes a special tribute to the academic contributions of his research team, nicknamed “the gang”—Rajvinder Khasriya, Anthony Kupelian, Kiren Gill, Harry Horsley, Sanchutha Sathiananthamoorthy, Linda Collins, Jane Currie and Sheela Swamy—to which he thanks for many happy times and wonderful adventures.
Professor Malone-Lee is survived by his wife of 48 years, Jenny and their adult children and their families. He leaves behind a huge legacy in his extensive LUTS research, his clinics, his book, and his heartbroken but deeply grateful patients—including the many who have never met him yet benefited from his career-long dedication to researching and treating UTI. Professor Malone-Lee’s research is continued by the Bladder Infection and Immunity Group (BIIG), based in the Department of Renal Medicine at UCL
The Prof will be sorely missed.
Published on Monday 21st February 2022