He served as a frogman in the Royal Navy from 1942. A Navy doctor encouraged him to study medicine, so he enrolled at St Andrews University on demobilisation and graduated in 1951, serving as a houseman at Dundee before moving to the postgraduate medical school at Hammersmith hospital in London. His MD was awarded in 1958 for work showing that Vitamin B12 is absorbed at the far end of the small intestine, work for which he also received the Rutherford gold medal.
His medical speciality was gastroenterology and he was a founder of Coeliac UK. He was also director of the Medical Research Council Clinical Research Centre at Northwick Park and research director at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. He was president of the British Medical Association from 1986 to 1987 and president of the Royal Society of Medicine from 1988 to 1990.
Booth was outspoken, on one occasion noting that taking the doctors' pay demand to the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, would be not a red rag to a bull, as a colleague suggested, but "a red rag to an old cow".
He published four books and 50 papers on the history of medicine, and played a leading role in the founding of The History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group.
He married three times; firstly Lavinia Loughridge, with whom he had a son and daughter, secondly Professor Soad Tabaqchali, with whom he had another daughter and lastly Joyce Singleton, who survived him.
Awards and honours
- Honorary Fellow, American College of Physicians, 1973
- Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite, 1977
- Honorary LLD, University of Dundee, 1982
- Honorary Fellow, Royal Society of Medicine, 1991
- Knighted for services to medicine in 1982
- "Sir Christopher Booth". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 May 2015.