Lives of the fellows

Robert Klaber

b.24 December 1900 d.2 March 1946
MB BS Lond(1924) DPH Oxon(1924) MD Lond(1928) MRCS LRCP(1923) MRCP(1927) FRCP(1941)

Robert Klaber, the son of Jessie and Albert Klaber, was born at South Norwood. His father was an inventor; it is claimed that he made the first satisfactory duplicating machine and founded the firm of Roneo Ltd. (makers of office equipment including duplicators). He attended the Abbey School at Beckenham, Kent, and in 1914 went to Tonbridge School where he was a pupil for five years; during two of these he edited the school magazine.

He joined His Majesty’s Forces for a period before he entered St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, in 1919. In 1923 he won the Sir George Burrow’s prize in pathology, the Skynner prize in child health, and was proxime accessit in the Brackenbury scholarship in medicine. After qualifying, Klaber served as house physician and house surgeon at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, and later travelled to Vienna to study dermatology. From 1929 to 1933 he was a clinical assistant in the skin department at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, and during the first three years of this period worked also as junior demonstrator in pathology. He then became physician-in-charge of the skin department at the Prince of Wales’s General Hospital, Tottenham, where he was also a lecturer in the North-East London Post-Graduate College.

In 1939 he became consulting dermatologist to Sector 2 of the Emergency Medical Service and organised an effective skin unit of fifty beds at Haymeads Hospital, Bishop’s Stortford. He was also for some time consulting dermatologist to the Harrow and Wealdstone Hospital, to the London County Council, and to the Luton and Dunstable Hospital. He served as honorary secretary to the section of dermatology of the Royal Society of Medicine from 1938 to 1940, and again jointly from 1940 to 1941. At the time of his death he was a member of the council of the section and also local secretary of the British Association of Dermatology.

Klaber made a particular study of the histo-pathology of the skin. By 1946 he had published some important papers and his reputation as a clinical dermatologist was high; there is no doubt that but for his death at the age of forty-five he would have become a great leader in his specialty. He was a keen and fearless debater, and in the friendliest way would ‘break a lance’ with any man. Dermatological section meetings at the Royal Society of Medicine were often enlivened during the 1940’s by his friendly disputes on the most erudite topics with the elderly, very renowned Frederick Parkes Weber.

Klaber was a very keen and competent horseman, and an enthusiastic gardener.

In 1939 he married Miss Anne Kowarick, by whom he had a son and a daughter.

Richard R Trail

[Brit.J.Derm., 1946, 58, 130-31; Brit.med.J., 1946, 1, 453; Lancet, 1946, 1, 401.]

(Volume V, page 232)

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