Intended for healthcare professionals


Shirley Ratcliffe

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 21 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4716
  1. Una Sapietis, Gary Butler

Shirley Ratcliffe—a pioneering doctor and researcher into chromosome disorders—died on 17 July 2013. Her research focused on chromosome disorders in children, in particular Klinefelter syndrome. She led the most detailed long term study ever done on the growth, endocrinology, and psychosocial development of children born with sex chromosome variations. Much of her work underpins current medical knowledge and advice about growth and development in these conditions.

Shirley Geraldine Elphinstone-Roe was born in Kenya; her parents moved to England when she was 5 years old. Aged 10, she lost both her parents during the war, a profound loss that she carried with her all her life. She and her sister were adopted by an aunt in Edenbridge, Kent, where, aged 16, Shirley nursed her aunt through the cancer that killed her. Despite this traumatic start in life, she qualified in medicine—a huge achievement for a girl with no family support. Shortly afterwards she moved to Edinburgh to join her husband, a sculptor, who was at art college in the city.

Shirley did specialist training as a paediatrician at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription