Lives of the fellows

Roman Stefan Kocen

b.20 March 1932 d.2 April 2013
MB ChB Leeds(1956) MRCP(1958) FRCP(1974)

Roman Stefan Kocan was a neurologist at the National Hospital, Queen Square, London. Born in Lodz, Poland, he was the son of Mieczyslaw Kocen, a clinical pathologist, and his wife, Lisa née Kompaniejec, whose father was a merchant. His paternal grandfather had also been a physician. He escaped from the Warsaw ghetto in 1943 at the age of 11 and arrived in the UK three years later, unable to speak English. After five years he was sufficiently adept at the language to win a scholarship to study medicine at Leeds University and the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI).

Qualifying in 1956, he did house jobs at the LGI before joining the RAMC in 1958 to do his National Service. He was posted to Malaya where he was in charge of the British Military Hospital in Taiping until 1960. After demobilisation he joined the staff of the neurology department at the Middlesex Hospital and continued his training at the National Hospital, Queen Square. Appointed a consultant neurologist at the Brook Hospital in 1968, he resigned in 1970 to become a consultant at Queen Square and the Edgware General Hospital.

In an era of increasing specialisation his skills covered the full range of neurological disorders. His diagnostic expertise was often called upon by his colleagues, especially in the area of the neurology of general medicine and infectious disease. He wrote or co-authored some 35 scientific papers covering such topics as the neurological complications of tuberculosis, Tangier disease, atheromatous disease of the carotid arterial system, and Fabry’s disease. At Queen Square, he became chairman of the medical committee. He was also civilian consultant advisor in neurology to the RAF. Retiring from the NHS at the age of 65, he continued for a while in private practice.

Outside medicine he enjoyed skiing, reading contemporary history and attending the theatre.

His first marriage ended in divorce and he married Elizabeth Ann née Glover in 1974; her father, Arthur Glover, was a sculptor. When he contracted the Parkinson’s disease that increasingly incapacitated him during his later years, Elizabeth cared for him with unfailingly care and good humour. She survived him, along with the two daughters from his first marriage, two children from his second and two grandchildren.

RCP editor

[BMJ 2013 347 4320 - accessed 20 November 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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