Intended for healthcare professionals


Roger Williams: global leader in liver disease

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 14 August 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3204
  1. John Illman
  1. London, UK
  1. john{at}
Photo: Chris Young/PA

In 2013 Roger Williams, who helped to develop the UK’s first liver transplant programme, said, “I still do my 12 hours a day.” He was then well into his 80s. His wish to keep going until he “keeled over backwards” was granted. The covid-19 lockdown gave him an unexpected chance to complete, some three months ahead of deadline, the 7th Lancet Commission report into liver disease in the UK.

The author of more than 2750 publications, 340 in the past 10 years, Williams was one of the most highly cited and influential hepatologists, according to the Institute of Scientific Information. He spent more than 50 years at the forefront of research and, uniquely, led three liver institutes.

Williams told the Lancet in 2013, “I’ve always wanted to be in medicine doing the best, as it were, and not having to refer to someone else to do something special. I’m never happier than when I’m working on and trying out new advances.”

Rise to prominence

His rise to prominence began in 1959 when he moved to the Royal Free Hospital, London, under Sheila Sherlock, the doyenne of liver disease—and a great talent spotter (read obituary: Starting in the …

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