Lives of the fellows

Nadir Mohammed Rashad Farid

b.14 April 1944 d.7 January 2010
MB BS Khartoum(1967) MRCP(1971) FRCPC(1973) FACP(1981) FRCP(1989)

Nadir Farid was a distinguished endocrinologist from Sudan. He was born in Dilling, in the Nuba Mountains. His father, Mohamed Rashad Farid, was one of the earliest Sudanese doctors to qualify from Kitchener School of Medicine (in 1935). His classmates included Tigani Elmahi (the first African psychiatrist) and Mohamed Hamad Satti (one of the first Sudanese parasitologists). He went on to become the deputy undersecretary of health in Sudan and was the first Sudanese fellow of the World Health Organization’s office in Alexandria. Nadir’s mother was Zeinab M R Farid, a housewife. Nadir was educated at Comboni College, a school established by the Catholic mission in Sudan and named after Saint Daniel Comboni, one of the first missionaries to preach in the Sudan in the mid-1800s. Comboni College in Nadir Farid’s heyday was a prestigious school where the children of the Sudanese elite were educated. Nadir was a distinguished pupil there, winning many awards and distinctions, including three gold and six bronze medals in various subjects. He went on to enrol at the faculty of medicine, Khartoum University, in 1961. At the medical faculty he achieved several distinctions and prizes, including prizes in physiology, pathology and biochemistry. In 1967, he was awarded the Lord Kitchener Memorial prize for the best student on graduation.

Inevitably many of his mentors were keen to include him in the academic staff of their departments. Ali Khaogali, then head of the physiology department and vice-dean, was keen to recruit Nadir, but Daoud Mustafa [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] succeeded in including Nadir among his junior staff at the faculty.

After a year as a research assistant (the equivalent to today’s assistant professor), Daoud Mustafa orchestrated a scholarship to the UK for Nadir to specialise in medicine and endocrinology, a trip which was to lead him permanently away from his home country. At the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, Nadir spent two years as a registrar with John Anderson in the endocrine unit. Nadir’s lifelong love and passion for endocrine autoimmunity was probably sparked by Anderson: it was a theme he would embrace throughout his career.

In 1972 Nadir emigrated to Canada and, after spending a spell with Robert Volpé [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] as a research fellow in Toronto, he moved to the Memorial University Hospital, St John’s, Newfoundland. He went up the ladder from assistant professor and attending physician at the endocrine section (1974), to associate professor (1978) and full professor and chief of the section of endocrinology in 1984. With Volpé as a mentor and collaborator, Nadir’s academic career in endocrine autoimmunity flourished and he published a plethora of papers in several top journals, including New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Lancet, British Medical Journal and Clinical Endocrinology. At the Memorial University Hospital Nadir held the distinguished positions of director of the thyroid research laboratory and medical director of the clinical investigation unit. At the same time he was also visiting professor at the department of clinical biochemistry at the University of Toronto and professor of immunology and cell sciences at the Memorial Hospital in Newfoundland.

At the turn of the 1980s, Nadir embraced and excelled at the emerging field of molecular endocrine genetics. In 2004 he published Molecular basis of thyroid cancer (Boston, Kluwer Academic), adding to his earlier books Immunogenetics of autoimmune diseases (Boca Raton, Florida, CRC Press, 1991), HLA in endocrine and metabolic disorders (New York/London, Academic Press, 1981) and Molecular aspects of autoimmunity (San Diego, Academic Press, 1990). The latter was edited jointly with Constantin A Bona. To these were added two other books – Anti-idiotypes, receptors and molecular mimicry (New York, Springer), published in 1987 jointly with D Scott Linthicum, and Immunogenetics of endocrine disorders (New York, Liss), which was published in 1988. Shortly before his premature death he published, with Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis, Diagnosis and management of polycystic ovary syndrome (New York, Springer), which appeared in April 2009. He also produced two other books geared towards patient education: The new glucose revolution guide to living well with PCOS (Marlower & Co, 2004) with Jennie Brand-Miller & Kate Marsh and The PCOS diet cookbook (Trafford Publishing, 2007) with Norene Gilletz.

In 1991 Nadir made another move. This time he took the prestigious position of chairman of the department of medicine and chief of the section of endocrinology at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He established the molecular endocrine laboratory there and was its director from 1991 to 1994. During his time in Riyadh he also became visiting professor of medicine at King Faisal University Medical School in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

In 1995 Nadir went back to Canada, where he spent two years at Chatham, Ontario. He then returned to the UK, joining St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals in Hertfordshire as a consultant physician and endocrinologist and, in 1998, held a chair at University of Hertfordshire as professor of biosciences. He left the NHS in 2002 when he established the London Endocrine Clinic in Wimpole Street.

Nadir Farid was an ‘all rounder’, interested in basic endocrine sciences, as well as their clinical application. He published widely and made an immense contribution. But his life was not without controversies. Since his early medical school days he was famous for being shy and a ‘loner’ and mostly keeping to himself. Many of his Sudanese colleagues felt he often maintained a distance between himself and his native people, and others felt he rarely referred to his Sudanese roots or background. To others he was very selective in his relations with his Sudanese colleagues and counterparts. Ali Alzahrani, one of his Saudi residents and a future collaborator with Farid summed him up: “He was a very charismatic and active person. He led the department of medicine in a completely new direction. He had a great vision and a very strong leadership. He was innovative in his ideas. His voice was well heard across the hospital. Scientifically, he was a real scientist who would impress you easily with his observant eyes and dynamic brain….He published extensively in the field of thyroid autoimmunity and thyroid cancer….On a personal level, he had a proud personality. He would stand firmly by his opinion when he is convinced of it but he would listen to the most junior colleague or a student when he realised otherwise. In brief, he was a brilliant man with great contributions to science and knowledge in the endocrine field.”

Nadir was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer in 2009 and he died shortly before his 66th birthday. He leaves two daughters (Claire and Emma) from his first wife Theresa Farid (née Norman), a Canadian nurse. He was married briefly to Gill McCarthy, an American rheumatologist whom he met in Riyadh, before his last marriage to Behnaz Shahedian (of Iranian origin), by whom he had one son.

Tarik Elhadd

(Volume XII, page web)

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