Choral tribute to inspirational medical scientist

01 Dec 2011 14:20:00.000


A leading medical scientist from The University of Nottingham Medical School is to be honoured by a new choral work commissioned in his memory.

Associate Professor of Neurotoxicology, Dr David Ray, died on Remembrance Day 2010 after a long and courageous fight against lung cancer. Dr Ray was Special Professor at the Medical School and led the Medical Research Council’s Applied Neuroscience Group at the University.

Dr Ray was also a member of the Choir of St Peter’s Church, Nottingham which has collaborated with the Medical School and his widow, Rev Joanna Ray, to commission a piece of choral music by the well-known British composer Howard Skempton.

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Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Professor Ian Hall, said: “Supporting this commission seems a very fitting way for the medical school to help commemorate David’s contributions to both the University and the wider community. Whilst David’s scientific work will continue to influence scientific thought, we hope this piece of music will act as a wider memorial to his life”.

David Ray’s main research interests were in the blood vessels of the brain and pesticide toxicity. He was an expert in the techniques of in vivo electrophysiology, brain micro-dissection and brain regional blood flow. He was continuously sought for his scientific expertise and advice and was a founder member of the International Neurotoxicology Association. He leaves a legacy of more than 50 published research papers.

Inspiration for the new choral tribute comes from Ecclesiasticus 38 which contains a rare Biblical reference to the medical profession: ‘The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them…Then give place to the physician, for the Lord hath created him: let him not go from thee, for thou has need of him.’

Director of Music at St Peter’s Church, Dr Peter Siepmann said: “There are very few pieces of sacred choral music about medicine and physicians so we hope that this exciting new work may find a niche wider than our commission.  Howard Skempton is a wonderfully creative composer, and we are greatly looking forward to seeing the new piece, and starting work on it in preparation for first performance.”

Dr Ray’s widow, Rev Joanna Ray, said: “I feel deeply moved and extremely proud that David should be honoured in such a wonderful way. He had a great love for choral church music and for listening to Proms concerts which he succeeded in doing shortly before he passed away. It was a great comfort and inspiration to him during the traumatic last days of his lung cancer. Music strengthened his courage and resolve, to keep cheerful and positive right until the end.”

It is hoped that the first performance of the new piece will be given by the Choir of St Peter’s in the University Medical School on Remembrance Sunday 2012.

Donations in aid of the choral commission are welcome and a donation form is available to download at




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Notes to editors:  The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.


The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its cam1  puses in the UK and Asia. Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. For more details, visit:

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

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