Hugh Baron

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 04 March 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h1025
  1. Janet Fricker, Hemel Hempstead
  1. janet.fricker1{at}

Gastroenterologist with a love of scholarship and art

Hugh Baron with his daughter, Susannah Baron

Jeremy Hugh Baron—a gastroenterologist with eclectic interests—described himself as a “restless polymath” whose recreation was “looking.” In addition to developing the Baron score for ulcerative colitis, and the concept of peak acid flow in ulcers, Baron was a compulsive writer with interests that included medical history, medical ethics, and the history of Judaism. His magnum opus The Stomach: A Biography, was a mammoth undertaking that exemplified his extraordinary scholarship. He is also credited with initiating the campaign for the “beautification” of UK hospitals through the introduction of works of art.

“He was a singular individual who pursued all his interests with unusual intensity. He was never concerned with promoting himself, but in moving the boundaries of science and art forward for their own sake,” said his daughter, Susannah Baron, a dermatologist at Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

Baron’s post retirement incarnation as a “distinguished man of letters” should not diminish the contributions he made in the 1960s to the emerging specialty of gastroenterology. It was while working as a registrar at the Middlesex Hospital that he adapted the augmented histamine test for gastric secretions—first developed by Sir Andrew Kay—to his own concept of peak acid output (PAO).1 Baron’s finding that at levels below 15 mmol/hour PAO duodenal ulcers did not occur was later used in trials of H2 antagonists to ensure acid was reduced sufficiently. “Hugh’s model clarified matters considerably since it offered a reproducible test,” explained John Bennett, a retired gastroenterologist from Hull, who has written his own tribute for Baron (10.1136/bmj.h1091).

In 1964 Baron developed his eponymous score, which defined visual endoscopy features used to grade the severity of inflammation in ulcerative colitis reproducibly, and which is still used today.2 …

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