Lives of the fellows

George Alan Rose

b.5 June 1925 d.24 December 2014
BA Oxon(1945) BM BCh(1953) DM(1956) MRCPath(1965) MRCP(1969) FRCP(1975) FRCPath(1977) FRSC

Alan Rose was a consultant chemical pathologist at the St Peter’s Group of Hospitals, London. He specialised in kidney stones and chemical analysis. From 1965 until he retired in 1990, he ran the laboratories, organised his research and prepared publications and lectures for national and international conferences and symposia.

Born in London, he was the second of three sons of Flora and Edward ‘Teddy’ Ezra Rosen, the founder and chief executive officer of Ultra Electronics. After being evacuated in 1939 from University College School to Canford School in Wimborne, Dorset, Alan completed his A levels in one year, entering Wadham College, Oxford, at the age of 17 to study chemistry. After graduating, he worked with Charles Dent [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.148] at University College Hospital (UCH), and over time they wrote papers together, the first in 1949 entitled ‘The Bence-Jones protein of multiple myelomatosis: its methionine content and its possible significance in relation to the aetiology of the disease’. (Biochem J. 1949;44[5]:610-8). They went on to write papers on protein chromatography and the radiological diagnosis of osteoporosis, osteomalacia and hyperparathyroidism.

With the encouragement of Charles Dent, Alan returned to Wadham College to study medicine, as Charles himself had done. He qualified BM BCh in 1953. He was a house surgeon at Lambeth Hospital and, six months later, a house physician at Dulwich Hospital. Then, in 1955, he was appointed as a medical registrar at UCH with Charles Dent, where he was based for the next five years.

Towards the end of his time at UCH, the renowned urological surgeon Leslie Pyrah of Leeds General Infirmary invited Alan to become a lecturer at Leeds. He agreed, but before going expressed a wish to spend at least six months at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. This was agreed and arranged. So, in 1960, with his family in tow, we went to the USA, living in a small house near the NIH, enabling Alan to walk to work. We did, however, have a large car, a Chevrolet station wagon, which stood us and our three children in good stead, especially on our final trip across the States six months later. Whilst working at the NIH, he also lectured at hospitals in Boston, New York, Lexington, Kentucky, and finally in Los Angeles, where his talks were on renal applications of biochemistry and all things related to kidney stones.

Once more back in the UK in Leeds, the work continued, as did his visits to European and international conferences, where he gave innovative papers. In 1965 he was appointed as a consultant chemical pathologist at the St Peter’s Group of Hospitals in London. Now running the laboratories, Alan got them completely computerised and reorganised until they became one of the leading nephro-urological laboratories in the country. They received kidney stones from all over the country and abroad, analysed them and advised on treatment.

Alan also attended annual conferences in Vienna and Bonn alternatively, and also in Holland, Madrid, Davos, Bologna and New York. In 1972 he presented papers in Jerusalem on hypercalciuria, osteomalacia and biochemical pathology. The New York symposium was followed by 10 other presentations from 1974 to 1992. These were at Williamsburg, USA, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Freemantle, Brisbane and Darwin in Australia, and Chandigarh and Delhi in India.

In 1985 the British Council invited Alan to go on a three-week lecture tour of India, to hospitals in Bombay, Madras and Vijayawada, and then to attend an international stone conference at Trivandrum. His 1987 lecture to the Massachusetts Medical School was followed by a workshop on “The crystallisation conditions in urine’. The following year he was invited to an international conference in Vancouver, Canada and, in 1990 he gave papers at a conference in South Africa at Cape Town and Pretoria.

Soon afterwards, also in 1990, came his automatic retirement from the NHS at the age of 65. Alan was then invited to be visiting professor at the Sultan Qaboos University in Oman for three months, lecturing to the medical students on biochemistry and kidney stone analysis. Back home, Alan saw his medico-legal work increase: he often appeared as an expert witness on the effects of alcohol in drink driving prosecutions. He also came to national attention through his robust defence of a technique to help couples choose the sex of their babies. He insisted that the service should only be used to balance families. So the London Gender Clinic came into being, where he was a consultant, as referred to in Alan’s book, Sex and alcohol in retirement (Trafford Publishing, 2010).

Alan’s talents and interests were not, however, solely academic. At Wadham College he rowed in the top team and one year they were head of the river. He was also secretary of the rowing club. Later he took up gliding, photography and squash. An avid skier, he taught us cross-country skiing in Norway and afterwards in Switzerland, Italy, France and the USA. He always had something interesting or exciting to talk about, and had a wonderful sense of humour. He was a great family man, and a huge support for me, looking after our disabled son, who sadly predeceased him. He was survived by his wife Jean, whom he married in 1954, their son, daughter and four grandchildren.

Jean Rose

(Volume XII, page web)

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