Lives of the fellows

Roy Summerly

b.17 April 1932 d.2 April 1984
MB CHB Birm(1955) MRCP(1960) MRCPE(1961) FRCPE(1972) FRCP(1974)

Roy Summerly was born at Rothwell, Northamptonshire, and educated at Kettering Grammar School. He read medicine at the University of Birmingham, where he qualified in 1955. After house appointments at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, and the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary, he served in the RAMC for two years and became clinical officer for dermatology. After leaving the Army in 1958 he completed his general medical training at the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary.

Roy decided to devote himself to dermatology and, after two years as a registrar in Stoke-on-Trent, was appointed first as registrar and later as senior registrar in dermatology at St Thomas’s Hospital. During this time he was also honorary clinical assistant at the Institute of Dermatology, St John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin, London. In 1964 he became a clinical research fellow at the Medical Research Council’s unit of experimental pathology of the skin in the medical school, Birmingham, where he developed an apitude and interest in research which he maintained throughout his career.

He was appointed consultant dermatologist to the North and Mid-Staffordshire Health Districts in 1966, being based at the North Staffordshire Hospital centre, Stoke-on-Trent. He rapidly established a reputation not only as a superb dermatologist but also as an excellent physician, and he played a major role in building up a first class department of dermatology. He was a gifted teacher, and the number of junior staff rotating through his department who subsequently took up a career in dermatology is a testament to his enthusiasm and inspiration.

Roy continued to devote himself to research at the MRC skin unit in Birmingham which subsequently moved to the University of Keele when its department of postgraduate medicine was established. He was appointed senior research fellow in 1979, and senior lecturer in dermatology in 1980. His more recent research was concerned with studies on epidermal phospholipase A2 activity in psoriasis and other epidermal hyperproliferations, and the monitoring of tropical steroid action by the inhibition of phospholipase A2. His scientific contributions to dermatology were extensive and he published over 15 papers in the last five years of his life.

Roy Summerly was much in demand on local and regional committees, where his wise counsel was highly valued. He was a member of the Dowling Club, and was asked to give the Dowling Oration in 1973, the mark of a distinguished young dermatologist. He was a very active member of the British Society for Investigative Dermatology, and had been on the executive committee of the British Association of Dermatologists, a vice-president of the section of dermatology of the Royal Society of Medicine, and president elect of the North of England Dermatology Society in 1983. He was due to be elected a member of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland in the month in which he died; a rare honour for a dermatologist and a testimony to his standing among physicians. He was also president of the North and Mid-Staffordshire division of the British Medical Association.

Roy was a quiet, extremely hardworking person, highly respected in his specialty, perhaps particularly because of two unusual attributes. Firstly, he continued active and productive basic research while carrying a busy clinical load, and secondly because his extensive knowledge of general medicine - quite apart from its relevance to dermatology - made him a dermatologist of the highest calibre.

He was a delightful person, always courteous, with many friends in all walks of life. He was renowned for his professional skill, integrity and intellectual honesty, his charm and his sense of humour. He enjoyed fell walking, cricket, and classical music - especially church music. He was also a campanologist. More recently he had developed an interest in historic battlefields. But most of the little spare time he had was devoted to his family; his wife Myrtle, a physician in community health, and his daughter and son, who all survived him.

W van't Hoff

[, 1984,288,1388; Lancet, 1984,1,919]

(Volume VIII, page 487)

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