Lives of the fellows

John Robert Knowlton Preedy

b.20 February 1918 d.2 October 2000
BA Cantab(1939) MB BS(1942) MRCP(1947) MD(1956) FRCP(1969)

John Preedy was an outstanding researcher who made important contributions to clinical endocrinology, to the estimation of oestrogenic hormones in urine and blood, and to the understanding of the effects of oestrogens on water and electrolyte metabolism.

He was born in Leeds. After attending Wellington School, he went on to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He then served in the Emergency Medical Services and received his medical degree in 1942.

During the Second World War, John Preedy served as surgeon-lieutenant on the destroyer Scourge on the run around the North Cape to Murmansk, Russia. After returning to civilian life, he became a member of the College in 1947. In 1956 he received his MD.

The 'American experience' began for John Preedy in 1953 when he joined, as a visiting fellow in medicine, the laboratory of Stanley E Bradley at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Presbyterian Hospital in New York. With Bradley he carried out cardiovascular research in animals and in man, relating to hepatic blood flow and splanchnic blood volume.

Between 1952 and 1957 Preedy also worked in the department of experimental biochemistry at the University of London under C. J. O. R. Morris. Here he gained extensive experience in basic science endocrinology and in endocrine biochemistry, with particular reference to steroid hormone determinations.

In 1957 John Preedy was invited by J. Willis Hurst, professor and chairman of the department of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, to join the faculty there. He rapidly rose through the ranks and became a professor of medicine and director, division of endocrinology in 1967.

Preedy was a master teacher of endocrinology to students, residents, fellows and junior faculty at Emory. He dissected complex endocrinological problems with precision, foresight and clarity. His British humour added a tone of levity to serious academic discussions. In addition to his teaching and clinical practice, Preedy contributed significantly to the then infant knowledge of oestrogen metabolism. For this, he obtained many grants from the National Institutes of Health and published numerous scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals.

After a period as chief of endocrinology at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Atlanta, John retired and moved with his wife, Anne ('Nancy') Richards (whom he married in 1966), to Hilton Head, South Carolina.

John had many interests outside medicine. He was an accomplished gourmet cook and a wine connoisseur. His colleagues and friends remember how on several occasions John asked the waiter to return a bottle of wine that did not live up to his expectations. The parties that the Preedys gave for colleagues and friends, which always included a large number of young people, were renown for the superior quality of food, pastry and wines. He also had a vast collection of classical music he enjoyed listening to on elaborate listening devices. John and his wife both liked to garden and their house was always full of flowers.

John Preedy was sustained throughout his professional life and in his later years when he was afflicted by a chronic illness, by his loving wife. She died a day after him following a short illness.

Mario DiGirolamo

(Volume XI, page 460)

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