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John Hermon-Taylor: surgeon and expert in Crohn’s disease

BMJ 2022; 376 doi: (Published 19 January 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;376:o146
  1. Rebecca Wallersteiner
  1. London, UK
  1. wallersteiner{at}
Amy Hermon-Taylor

John Hermon-Taylor was born into a medical family in London, the second of five children to Hermon Taylor, a surgeon at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, who produced the first flexible gastroscope for the treatment of peptic ulcers, and Méarie (née Pearson), a medical secretary. His grandparents were both school teachers. As a small child, he was evacuated to Devon during the second world war. Educated at Harrow School, where he was a scholar and accomplished rugby player, he decided to become a doctor, like his father.

Medical career

Having graduated from St John’s College, Cambridge, with a degree in medicine in 1960, Hermon-Taylor began work as a registrar at the London Hospital. In 1963, he obtained the fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons, winning the prestigious Hallett prize, awarded to the highest scoring candidate. Five years later, he travelled to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, on a Medical Research Council scholarship, where he met his future wife, the biologist Eleanor Pheteplace. They married in 1971 and had two children, Amy and Peter.

Crohn’s disease

In 1976, Hermon-Taylor was appointed professor of surgery at St George’s Hospital, London, and began the work that would define his career. From his predecessor, he inherited a large cohort of patients with Crohn’s disease, a severe form of inflammatory bowel disease with no known cause and no cure. At the time, few treatments for …

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