Lives of the fellows

Benjamin Gottlieb

b.12 March 1911 d.15 March 1995
MB BS Durh(1934) MD(1937) MRCP(1937) FRCP(1969)

Ben Gottlieb was born in Hungary into a phenomenal family, an extraordinary fusion of medical and musical prowess. The father, Berl, enjoyed world fame as a great European cantor, but his renown was embellished by his choral arrangement with his three sons. Ben, the youngest, had a thrilling falsetto, sadly and inevitably to break. Despite their vocal talents two of the sons regarded medicine as their ultimate destiny. Ben studied medicine at Durham University Medical School and went on to hold junior posts in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and in the London area.

He was appointed as a consultant in internal medicine at St Mary Abbotts Hospital in 1947. Ben’s staid dignified appearance belied a genuine tenderness and concern for his patients and their families. He pioneered an interest in the nutrition of families and in specific vitamin deficiencies. He also carried out meticulous detailed analysis of the interrelation between families and the wider community. He took the teaching of medicine seriously, especially of nutrition, and his students appreciated his grave and disciplined approach to teaching.

He found himself keenly challenged by the effective neuro-endocrine management of tumours such as massive phaeochromocytoma. But of particular significance was his strong physiological inclination in his search for the humoral factors first associated principally with the effective diagnosis and management of phaeochromocytoma and other hormone secreting tumours.

His scientific enquiring mind was especially illustrated by the serial and carefully planned sequence of experiments on dogs which helped to clarify the role of gastrointestinal hormones in the pathways of glucose metabolism and gluconeogenesis, and he pursued this physiological experimentation as profoundly as he could.

He had in the process helped to motivate an excellent team of enthusiastic physiological colleagues in New York. This was his natural bent and life was too short to pursue all his physiological objectives to their natural conclusions. As a truly dedicated clinician with limited resources he set an outstanding example on both sides of the Atlantic.

He married Muriel Esther Frances Drukker in 1940 and they had a son and two daughters.

A Russell

(Volume X, page 173)

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