MB ChB Manch 1904, MD 1909; MRCP 1912; FRSM 1913.
Lea, known as Edgar, received his medical education at Manchester and at King's College London. He held junior appointments at MRI, Chorlton Union Hospital (later Withington Hospital Manchester), Southwark Union Infirmary and at Nordrach-on-Dee Sanatorium, Kincardineshire, where he was clinical pathologist. In 1911, Lea was appointed assistant director of the clinical laboratory, MRI, a post he held until his appointment to the position of medical registrar. In 1913 Lea was also appointed honorary assistant physician to Salford Royal Hospital. Lea served as a captain in the RAMC.