Lives of the fellows

Michael Kremer

b.27 November 1907 d.1 March 1988
BSc Lond(1927) MRCS LRCP(1929) MB BS(1930) MD(1932) MRCP(1932) FRCP(1943)

Michael Kremer was one of the most distinguished and best loved physicians of his generation and his active career in the practice of neurology extended over nearly half a century.

He began his medical career at the Middlesex Hospital medical school at an unusually early age. By the age of 20 he had an honours degree in physiology and qualified in medicine three years later, having been elected Broderip Scholar at the Middlesex in 1929. He became a member of the College in 1932 and gained his MD in the same year. He held house appointments at the Middlesex and worked as a demonstrator in the physiology department with Samson Wright [Munk's Roll, Vol.V, p.463] and then returned to clinical medicine as medical registrar, and later as registrar at the National Hospital, Queen Square.

His first appointment to the staff of a hospital as a physician came early in his career when he was appointed to the Hampstead General Hospital. At the outbreak of the war he joined the RAMC and served as neurologist to a neurosurgical unit in the Middle East. Later, he returned to the United Kingdom to work in the neurological and neurosurgical unit established for the Army and the RAF at St Hugh’s in Oxford by Cairns, Symonds [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.563] later Sir Charles, and Riddick. He left the RAMC with the rank of lieutenant colonel and later continued his association with the Army as civil consultant in neurology. While still in the Army he was elected to the Fellowship of the College and delivered the Oliver Sharpey lecture in 1958 on the subject of sitting, standing and walking. Soon after his return to civilian life he was appointed to the consultant staff of the Middlesex Hospital as a neurologist, and to the Maida Vale Hospital for Nervous Diseases as a physician. He resigned the latter appointment when he joined the National Hospital, Queen Square. He remained on the staff of the Middlesex and the National Hospital until his retirement in 1973. After retirement he continued in practice, busy and active, until the day of the tragically sudden onset of his fatal illness.

Both the hospitals he served owed him a great debt. He was devoted to the Middlesex, which had nurtured him, and served his patients and his colleagues there most faithfully. He was responsible for the foundation of the department of neurological studies in the medical school, endowed initially by the family of one of his patients who wished to show their gratitude for his skill and kindness. The department was later supported further by a generous endowment from yet another grateful patient. The clinical science building in which this department is housed, and which also houses the other clinical academic departments, was built in large measure as a result of his efforts.

At the National Hospital, Queen Square, he was dean of the Associated Institute of Neurology from 1954-62 and during this time, largely due to his own work and enthusiasm, great developments in university departments began, which have since borne much fruit in the advancement of knowledge.

He was a first class, most astute clinician but in addition he had remarkable personal qualities which endeared him to his many patients in the wards, clinics, and his private practice, those whom he had cured and also those to whom he could only hope to bring some relief from the possibility of lifelong suffering and disability. To anyone associated with him in his work it was quite clear that his very presence was therapeutic, and his patients knew that behind all his professional skill and sophisticated techniques there was a doctor who would listen with compassion, would understand, and would always do his best. It was, perhaps, his special ability to listen patiently and with understanding, completely unhurried in spite of his immensely busy life, that inspired such devotion in his patients - and devotion is not too strong a word. He was also a great teacher and inspiration to his younger colleagues. Many of his former house physicians and registrars went on to pursue a career in neurology, which perhaps they had never considered until they had seen Michael at work. They were probably attracted to the subject by his own great enthusiasm for it, and the way in which this enthusiasm enabled him to carry on working when they, many years his junior, were wondering how they could keep going for another five minutes. He published papers on a wide variety of neurological topics and even after his retirement he continued working on the effects of immunosuppressive treatment on multiple sclerosis.

Michael bore the trials of his final illness with fortitude and was for many months a patient in his own ward at the Middlesex. He was survived by his wife, Anne, his daughters Susan and Jane, his son David and a grandchild, Tasmin.

CJ Earl

[The Times, 11 March 1988; The Middx Hosp.J., 1974]

(Volume VIII, page 265)

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