Professor Stephen Lawn

10 October 2016

We regret to announce that Professor Steve Lawn who was well-liked and respected across the TB community at UCL - not only as a great speaker, researcher and advocate for TB but also as a friend to many - died on 23 September. 

We reproduce the tribute from Professor Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

It is with great sadness that I share the news that our exceptional colleague and friend, Professor Stephen Lawn died on Friday 23rd September at the age of 50. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a highly malignant brain tumour and, despite neurosurgery, radiotherapy and repeated chemotherapy, he has continued to work and teach throughout the past two years with his characteristic brilliance, warmth and humour.

Steve Lawn has made major contributions to the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis among populations affected by HIV/AIDS, and to reducing the burden of HIV-associated TB. His pioneering work has resulted in over 250 publications including many influential papers particularly on rapid diagnostic screening for TB, and making important contributions to World Health Organization guidelines.

Steve was Professor of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and closely linked to the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at the University of Cape Town, where he was based from 2005 to 2012. His work was honoured by the Desmond Tutu Foundation and the government of South Africa, and awarded the Royal Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's Chalmers Medal.

Returning to London in 2012, he continued to contribute greatly to the work and life of the School, leading the very popular HIV/AIDS module, supervising PhD students, and continuing ground-breaking research on HIV-associated TB in southern Africa. He was a strong supporter and very active member of the School's growing TB Centre.

Above all, Steve was passionately committed to saving lives and reducing the burden of disease in some of the world's poorest communities. He was inspired by faith and love, and was in turn greatly loved by colleagues and students alike. Our deepest sympathies and thoughts are with Steve's family and many friends; his wife Joy Lawn is also a professor at the School, and they have two children - Tim (21) and Joanna (19).

Steve and Joy together with colleagues in the TB Centre in London, those in Cape Town and around the world, decided to establish a Memorial Fund. This will support a Lecture to be given annually, in London and Cape Town, by a leading TB researcher. In addition, there will be a monetary Prize for an upcoming researcher conducting work focused on reducing the disease burden of TB and AIDS in Africa. 

There is a book of condolence in the ITD Faculty office, Keppel St 361, or please email any messages to Gemma Donaldson, Faculty Operating Officer, gemma.donaldson@lshtm.ac.uk. There will be a thanksgiving for his life on Friday 7th October near Richmond, and we hope many from the School will join this event. Within the next few days we will circulate further details of the thanksgiving service and the memorial fund.

I will miss Steve dearly, his passion, his wit, his wisdom, his warmth, his humanity.

- Professor Peter Piot