b.26 January 1905 d.6 December 1962
OBE(1948) BSc Glasg(1927) MB ChB Glasg(1930) DPH Edin and Glasg(1933) MD Glasg(1939) FRFPS(1932) FRSE(1943) MRCP(1948) FRCP(1954)
Robert Kirk, the distinguished research worker in tropical medicine, was born in Glasgow, the son of Robert Lee Kirk, a minister of the Church of Scotland, and Primrose Adair, daughter of John Martin, a brewer. Following a brilliant undergraduate record in zoology and medicine, in which he was Gairdner medallist, and after local house posts, he joined the Sudan Medical Service in 1933, working in the Wellcome and Stack Research Laboratories, of which he became director. There his contributions to the knowledge of kala-azar, yellow fever and the taxonomy of sandflies brought him the fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Chalmers medal of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. When in 1951 the Kitchener School of Medicine became part of the new University of Khartoum he was appointed its first professor of pathology. In 1955 he took the Sinclair chair at Singapore, and in 1960 became professor of pathology at the University of Hong Kong.
Kirk was a sound clinician, an expert teacher and a charming host, although somewhat reserved and inclined to his native dourness and inability to compromise. Yet this was balanced by the dry humour and the wealth of experience that brightened his lectures and his after-dinner speeches. The many papers he published showed the thoroughness and integrity of his remarkable intellect.
He was survived by his wife, three sons and one daughter.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.med.J., 1963, 1, 127; J.Path.Bact., 1964, 88, 616-21 Bibl.; J. trop. Med Hyg., 1963, 66, 52-3; Lancet, 1963, 1, 176, 230; Times, 22 Jan. 1963.]
(Volume V, page 231)
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