Instead she became clinical assistant to the Professor of Surgery, James Learmonth (Leter Sir James), who taught her the rudiments of medical research, She called him ‘Poppa’; years later, when she got engaged, he traveled to London overnight, inspected (and approved) her finance at breakfast, then returned to Edinburgh.
In 1942 she was house physician to Professor McMichael (later Sir John, another Eules scholar) at Hammersmith Hospital and the Postgraduate Medical School. He taught her liver biopsy and, in 1943, with the pathology John Dible, they published a paper on the pathology of acute hepatitis (Lancet, 2 October); it effectively demolished the theory of ‘catarrhal jaundice’ attributed to obstruction of the ampulla by a plug of mucus. this work was the basis of her thesis for an Edinburgh MD (and gold medal) in 1945. No one could have predicted what was to follow. Supported by the Medical Research Council, then by the Beit Memorial Fund, she studied the biochemistry of the liver and its disorders, although biochemistry was never to be her forte. When the war ended she investigated the effect on the liver of the malnutrition still to be found in Germany. Awarded a Rockefeller travelling fellowship in 1947 she went to the Department of Physiological Chemistry at Yale, headed by C.N.H. Long, best known for his work on the isolation of ACTH. She returned to Hammersmith a year later as Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Physician. She was only thirty.
Within a few years her new Liver Unit was famous – and so was she! Research fellows came from far and wide, particularly the USA and the Commonwealth. The research output was prodigious, with publications on many aspects of liver disease. During this time her interests included hepatic handling of glucose, the pathophysiology of the portal circulation, the mechanisms and management of hepatic encephalopathy.