David Nichol Sharp Kerr

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 07 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6697
  1. Charles Pusey, Robert Wilkinson

David Nichol Sharp Kerr had a distinguished undergraduate career at Edinburgh University, graduating with honours. After house physician and surgeon posts in Edinburgh, he studied anatomy at the University of Wisconsin, gaining an MSc. After national service in the Royal Navy, he resumed postgraduate training at Edinburgh and subsequently the Hammersmith Hospital, where he developed a special interest in hepatology. He worked with Sheila Sherlock and wrote a seminal paper in the Lancet in 1958, entitled “The use of a steroidal spironolactone in the treatment of ascites in hepatic cirrhosis”—an approach that is still used today. Importantly, he also met Sister Jones on Ward B1, who was to become Mrs Eleanor Kerr. In 1959 he moved to Newcastle as first assistant to Professor George Smart, with the task of developing the then new specialty of nephrology. It was said that his grounding in nephrology was developed on the train from Kings Cross to Newcastle. He was promoted to senior lecturer in medicine and consultant physician at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in 1963, awarded a personal chair in medicine in 1968 and appointed professor of medicine in 1971. He remained in post until 1983, when he was appointed dean at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School.

He was greeted in Newcastle as the “whizz kid” from London but soon established that he was much more than that, with his clinical work, teaching, research, and personal relationships. He was a pioneer in the establishment of treatment of irreversible renal failure by dialysis and transplantation and one of the three …

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