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Dame Sheila Sherlock

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 19 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:174

World authority on the liver and professor of medicine, Royal Free Hospital, London

For decades Sheila Sherlock was the world's foremost hepatologist, an audacious thing for a woman to be, especially in the 1950s. She was a small, plump bundle of energy and her clinical, research, teaching, editorial, and written output was phenomenal. She was the first woman to be appointed professor of medicine in the United Kingdom and she was the Royal College of Physicians' first woman vice president. She wrote the first textbook on the subject, Diseases of the Liver and Biliary System, in 1954; it has been translated into at least six other languages, and the 11th edition, co-authored with James Dooley, came out a fortnight before her death.

Little was known about liver disease when she began her career. Her clinical research, innovation, and teaching led to improved diagnosis and treatment and helped establish and develop hepatology. She introduced needle biopsies, replacing laparoscopy and aiding diagnosis in patients too ill to undergo general anaesthetics. …

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