Lives of the fellows

Jack Sydney Pryor

b.4 July 1933 d.21 December 1988

Jack Pryor was consultant physician, with a special interest in renal diseases, at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital, Norwich. He was born in London, the son of Robert William Pryor, who served in the Merchant Navy. He received his medical training at Charing Cross Hospital, where he was later to return as a senior medical registrar for a period of three years from 1966. His interest in renal diseases began when he was a medical registrar at the Institute of Urology from 1960-62, when he was directly concerned with treating patients on the artifical kidney and undertaking renal biopsy studies. His basic interest in fundamental renal physiology was developed in the research he did while there.

For a period of two years he worked as a research fellow and senior medical registrar at the Institute of Urology, where he was directly involved with clinical problems of a renal and metabolic nature, before he moved to Charing Cross Hospital as senior medical registrar. At Charing Cross he was involved with the cardiac surgical team and concerned with the management of the matabolic problems arising after bypass surgery, with particular orientation to the handling of patients with acid-base problems, together with water and electrolyte disturbances, as well as those of a respiratory nature. In 1969 he was appointed senior lecturer in medicine, with honorary consultant status, at Charing Cross Hospital and took over the responsibility of the home dialysis programme, as well as participating in the hospital maintenance dialysis programme.

In 1970 he was appointed head of the department of experimental therapeutics at Sandoz in Basle, Switzerland, and was responsible for designing studies in the early stages of the development of new drugs. While working in this department he was further involved in the development of a number of drugs, including bromocriptine, salmon calcitonin and beta blockers.

Jack Pryor was appointed consultant physician in renal diseases at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital in May 1971, a post he held until his sudden death in December 1988.

Jack had always been an enthusiastic teacher of clinical medicine prior to taking up the post in Norwich, and he continued in the role of medical tutor for many years. He maintained an active research relationship with the department of biological sciences at the University of East Anglia, where he developed animal organ culture as a model for studying drug reaction and toxicology. His particular interest was in the use of kidney culture for studying renin disease and the action of various drugs on this. In recognition of the important role he played in lecturing to the university students and directing many research workers, he was appointed honorary professor to the School of Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia in 1980.

On the clinical side, his opinion was often sought in the handling of complicated and seriously ill patients, and his weekly major ward rounds proved to be extremely popular with junior doctors, medical students, and many representatives of the departments of dietetics and pharmacy. Overseas students were particularly welcome and not uncommonly some of the ward rounds would be conducted in French, German or Spanish. He always had time to explain points of clinical interest, as well as those of physiology, biochemistry and pharmacology.

When Jack Pryor first arrived in Norwich there was no renal service whatsoever and, with his enthusiasm and dynamism, he organized the building of two renal units. He was delighted when the opening of the chronic dialysis unit, in May 1978, was undertaken by Sir Douglas Black, then president of the College. An additional extension to the unit was opened in August 1986 by Dr (later Dame) Sheila Quinn, president of the Royal College of Nursing. Further developments were planned, but regrettably he did not live to see these come to fruition.

In 1958, Jack Pryor married Bridget Egan, a nursing sister at the Brompton Hospital, whom he had met at Charing Cross Hospital. They had one son, Robert, who teaches in Madrid.

Jack was a francophile and delighted in spending his holidays in his house in the Dordogne. His visits there could be predicted to coincide with Bastille Day, when he joined the local townspeople in their celebrations. He was full of joie de vivre, and enjoyed good wine - on which he was an authority.

DV Hamilton

[Brit.med.J.,298,181-2]

(Volume VIII, page 398)

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