Van Den Ende, Marinus 1912 - 1957

South African

(1912-1957), Medical scientist

Marinus Van Den Ende was born on the 9th February 1912 in the small Northern Transvaal town of Potgietersrust, South Africa. He excelled academically in the small village school, matriculated at the age of 15, and proceeded to the University of Cape Town to study medicine in 1928, Marinus graduated MB ChB in 1933. He was an intern at New Somerset Hospital in 1934 and in 1935 he joined the Pathology Department at UCT Medical School, under Professor B J Ryrie, as a junior assistant in Pathology and Forensic Pathology until 1937.

At the end of 1937 Marinus became the second recipient of a John Lucas Walker scholarship and proceeded to Cambridge University, where he was awarded a PhD in Pathology in 1940. Here, he met Sir Henry Dale, this contact, and Sir Henry's appreciation of his research potential, was the turning point of his career. Dale supported his transfer to the Institute in Hampstead in 1938, where he was offered a permanent post in 1939. With war becoming imminent he obtained special 'war leave' from the University of Cape Town and the Cape Hospital Board, and he and his wife remained in England for almost another 7 years.

At the NIMR Marinus worked with a team investigating aspects of infection, with reference to the war effort. The two major areas of involvement were 'air hygiene' and rickettsia infections. In 1943, Marinus was seconded to the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) with the rank of major and travelled with an army medical team to Algiers in North Africa, where an outbreak of epidemic typhus was being experienced. Since there were insufficient cases they were moved to Naples in 1943, where there was a larger outbreak extending into 1944. Unfortunately, under the prevailing conditions the drugs did not prove effective, possibly because of late presentation of cases, and some patients developed nephrotoxicity.

Later in 1944, Marinus was seconded to the Wellcome Research Laboratories of Tyburn, to head up the large-scale production of scrub typhus vaccine. In 1945 Marinus applied for and was appointed to the Chair of Bacteriology at University of Cape Town (UCT), which he filled in 1946 at the age of 34. Van den Ende's research productivity was soon recognised and in 1948 the CSIR created the Virus Research Unit under his directorship.

In 1953, as recipient of the Arthur Sims Travelling Fellowship, van den Ende was able to spend several months in Melbourne, Australia, at the renowned Walter & Eliza Hall Institute. Toward the end of this visit van den Ende became ill. Shortly after his return to South Africa, he and his wife departed for the UK where an exploratory thoracotomy and mediastinal node biopsy revealed Hodgkin's disease. In the 1950s the prognosis was abysmal.

Marinus was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa in 1954. In 1939 Marinus married Joan Herold Barry, they had four children. He died on the 4th June 1957.