b.17 August 1944 d.12 August 2014
BSc Newcastle(1966) PhD(1969) Hon FRCP(2001)
Kenneth Welsh was a pioneer in the field of transplant immunology. He was born in Tynemouth, Northumberland, the son of Henry Norman Welsh, a quantity surveyor, and Mary Winifred Welsh, a company director. He was educated at Tynemouth High School and then went on to Newcastle University to study chemistry. He gained a BSc with first class honours in 1966 and then a PhD in microbiology in 1969.
While working on his PhD, he became interested in how cells recognise cells of their own type and others; the major obstacle to effective transplantation. To pursue this, he worked as a postdoc at the McIndoe Memorial Laboratories at East Grinstead. He then moved to Sweden, where he worked with Hans Wigzell at the Karolinska Institute.
In 1974 Welsh returned to the McIndoe Laboratories, and then moved with Richard Batchelor [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] to Hammersmith Hospital in 1979. Two years later, he joined the Thames Regional Tissue Typing Laboratory at Guy’s Hospital, where, for the first time, he was in charge of his own department. Here his team pioneered HLA-specific (human leukocyte antigen) antibody incompatible kidney transplantation for patients with no other treatment options.
In 1991 he moved to the Oxford Transplant Centre, which rapidly became a magnet for those interested in immunogenetics research, with Welsh actively encouraging collaboration among medical, scientific and commercial researchers.
In 2002 Welsh retired from his Oxford post and moved on to the Royal Brompton Hospital and Imperial College, where he continued his work on the genetics of common disorders, including scleroderma and inflammatory bowel disease.
During his career he supervised over 30 MSc, PhD and MD students and published over 300 publications in peer-reviewed journals.
He was survived by his wife Margaret and their children, Alison and Mark.
[International Journal of Immunogenetics, 2015, 42, 1-3]
(Volume XII, page web)
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