Gunnar Stickler

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 22 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c7349
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. 1Hamburg
  1. ns{at}

Paediatrician who identified Stickler’s syndrome

Climbing the steps to the podium was not going to be easy for Gunnar Stickler. Until late in his life a vibrant sportsman, he was now 82 years old and had Parkinson’s disease. “A cruel disease,” he called it. But whether it was difficult or not, he would climb the steps and give his speech to the 2007 annual conference of Stickler Involved People. This is a US based support group for people affected by Stickler’s syndrome, the hereditary progressive condition that Stickler described in 1965 in a landmark paper (Mayo Clinic Proceedings 1965;40:433-55) and which affects an estimated one in 10 000 people. He died at home in the Wayzata suburb of Minneapolis in November aged 85.

“He had had a hip replacement and was using a cane,” said Pat Houchin, cofounder and current director of Stickler Involved People. “We had to balance him up the stairs to the podium. It was obvious that his body was slowing down, but not his mind.”

Many possible symptoms

After retiring in 1989 from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where he had been chairman of paediatrics, Stickler had advised and encouraged the group as well as the UK Stickler Syndrome Support Group, seldom …

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