Oliver Wrong

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 21 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3509
  1. Peter Davies, freelance journalist, London
  1. petergdavies{at}

Self experimenter who helped establish the specialty of nephrology

The nephrologist Oliver Wrong, who has died aged 87, followed in the long tradition of doctors who conduct experiments on themselves. A founder of the specialty, Wrong designed and made in his laboratory 5000 bags of cellulose tubing filled with a colloidal solution that he would eat at breakfast. When they emerged they enabled him to analyse the colon’s electrolyte content.

“They were like ribbons . . . I met a former colleague who said he ate a lot of them too, as did my mother,” recalled his daughter, Michela, remembering “weeks and weeks” of protein-free diets and her father’s occasional trips to have stools irradiated. “I always assumed everyone did this.” All the experiments had a serious purpose: it was a neglected area of basic research. Michela said, “He found it puzzling that more was known about animals’ kidneys than human beings’.”

Prolific and pioneering

Wrong, emeritus professor of medicine at University College London, identified and defined the rare genetic Dent’s disease; invented a test for the kidney’s ability to excrete acid; and was a …

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