Lives of the fellows

Thomas Martin Barratt

b.13 February 1936 d.17 January 2014
CBE(1997) MB Cantab(1960) BChir(1961) MRCP(1964) FRCP(1977)

Thomas Martin Barratt helped establish the specialty of paediatric nephrology in the UK. As professor of paediatric nephrology at the Institute of Child Health, London, and a consultant nephrologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, he made a significant contribution to our understanding of childhood renal disorders, and trained and mentored several generations of paediatric nephrologists. He was born in north London, the son of Thomas Ernest Chester Barratt, a solicitor. His mother was one of the first women Cambridge undergraduates. He attended Clifton School in Bristol and studied natural sciences at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he gained a first class degree. He then attended St Thomas’s Hospital Medical School for his clinical studies.

He held house officer posts at St Thomas’ Hospital and was then a registrar in the department of chemical pathology, Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he worked under Barbara Clayton [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web]. He continued his paediatric training at St Thomas’ and was then a research fellow in the department of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at Johns Hopkins Medical School, Baltimore, working with Mackenzie Walser.

In 1967 he was appointed as a lecturer in paediatric nephrology in the department of immunology at the Institute of Child Health, and in 1971 was promoted to senior lecturer and became a consultant nephrologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital. In 1978 he was awarded a personal chair in paediatric nephrology. He was the first paediatrician in the country to focus solely on childhood renal disease. He initially worked single-handedly, but in 1975 he was joined by Michael Dillon and together they developed renal services at Great Ormond Street and an internationally-renowned research programme at the Institute of Child Health. Barratt was also an early exponent of the importance of multidisciplinary care and worked closely with colleagues in urology, radiology and pathology.

His research interests were broad and included urolithiasis, renal function after cardiopulmonary bypass, renal cystic disease and inherited kidney disorders. He was particularly known for his work in relation to childhood nephrotic syndrome and the hemolytic-uremic syndromes.

He was an outstanding teacher and was responsible for the development of the highly successful annual postgraduate courses in paediatric nephrology at the Institute of Child Health. He was an editor of the first four editions of Pediatric nephrology (Baltimore/London, Williams & Wilkins), the standard reference text in the specialty.

In 1989 he became director of clinical services at Great Ormond Street. During his tenure he oversaw the transition of the hospital to trust status and a programme of rebuilding, paid for with funds raised by the Wishing Well Appeal.

Barratt was foundation secretary of the British Association for Paediatric Nephrology from 1972 to 1976, and president from 1994 to 1997. He was awarded honorary memberships of the British Association for Paediatric Nephrology, the European Society for Paediatric Nephrology and the International Pediatric Nephrology Association. In 1997 he honoured with a CBE, and in 2002 he was awarded the James Spence medal of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

He retired early from clinical practice due to the effects of progressive facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy.

In 1966 he married Gill Owen, a social worker who later became a group analyst and psychotherapist. They had a son, Thomas, two daughters, Emily and Josy, and four grandchildren.

RCP editor

[Pediatr Nephrol (2014) 29:1115-1117 – accessed 19 January 2016; The Guardian 3 February 2014 – accessed 19 January 2016; BMJ 2014 348 1938 – accessed 19 January 2016]

(Volume XII, page web)

<< Back to List