Lives of the fellows

Bryan Frederick Warren

b.15 April 1958 d.28 March 2012
MB ChB Liverp(1981) MRCPath(1993) FRCPath(2000) FRCP(2007)

Bryan Warren was a consultant gastrointestinal pathologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. One of the foremost gastrointestinal pathologists of his era, he was a larger than life character in every sense. He was born in Tiverton, Cheshire, the son of William Frederick Warren, a controller for British Rail, and Edith Warren née Dimelog, a former nurse. He studied medicine at Liverpool University.

He began a career in medicine but, despite obvious talent for the subject, struggled to gain membership of the Royal College of Physicians by examination. He therefore changed course to histopathology. He trained in Liverpool and Bristol, and developed a special interest in gastrointestinal pathology. This interest was stimulated – at least in part – by the Crohn’s disease that he developed as a child. His expertise in gastrointestinal pathology was wide-ranging, but his favourite topics were inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer. While a trainee, he undertook research into IBD using a tamarin monkey model, and became very proficient at colonoscopy, as well as histopathology.

He was appointed as a consultant histopathologist to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, in 1994, and was able to specialise solely in gastrointestinal histopathology shortly after his arrival in Oxford, when the department took the route of subspecialisation that is now commonplace within larger departments. He was delighted subsequently to be elected as a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 2007.

Bryan believed passionately in the importance of close working relationships between the histopathologist and the clinician, and this was central to the way that his career developed in Oxford. He published widely within gastrointestinal pathology (at the time of his death he had 130 publications listed on Medline), and many of his papers were seminal in nature. As his national and international reputation became established, he developed a large referral practice in diagnostic histopathology. He held senior roles in several medical societies, including the Pathological Society, the British Division of the International Academy of Pathology (BDIAP), the British Society of Gastroenterology and the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland.

Teaching was one of Bryan’s particular strengths, and he became an immensely popular lecturer, for both histopathologists and clinicians. His talks were always both informative and entertaining – the latter enhanced by his dry wit and his obvious immense enthusiasm for his subject. One of the key messages in his teaching was the importance of careful macroscopic examination of resection specimens, in both IBD and colorectal neoplasia. His reputation led to wide travels related to gastrointestinal pathology: due to his involvement with BDIAP, he was instrumental in developing a school of pathology in Bosnia, now named after him in his honour.

Beyond work, Bryan was a family man devoted to his wife Tracy and his stepchildren Scott and Emma. His favourite hobbies were related to motoring – in particular, driving and classic/sports cars. He was a member of the High Performance Club and became a prominent member of the Bristol Owners’ Club. Meetings with him would therefore comprise a combination of enthusiastic discussions related to gastrointestinal pathology and an update on the latest classic car engine rebuild or other motoring-related tale!

In a cruel twist of fate, Bryan developed cancer related to his longstanding Crohn’s disease, but bore this illness for several years with stoicism and humour, despite enduring several major operations and periods of additional therapy. He continued to work whenever he was able to, until shortly before his death at the young age of 53.

Adrian C Bateman

[The Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland 3 May 2012 – www.acpgbi.org.uk/news/announcements/professor-bryan-f-warren-1958-2012/ – accessed 20 November 2012; The British Division of the International Academy of Pathology – www.bdiap.org/Obituaries/Bryan_Warren/BFWarren_Obituary.htm – accessed 20 November 2012]

(Volume XII, page web)

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