Lives of the fellows

Andrea Prader

b. 23 December 1919 d. 3 June 2001
PhD(1957) FRCP(1978)

Andrea Prader was a paediatric endocrinologist who was the joint discoverer of the eponymous Prader-Willi syndrome and the creator of two physiological sex development scales, the Prader scale and Prader’s orchidometer.

Born in Samedan, Grisons, Switzerland, he lived most of his life in Zurich. Educated at the Gymnasium in Zurich, he then attended the medical school at the University of Zurich. He qualified in 1944 and worked in the department of anatomy under G Toendury until 1947 when he moved to Lausanne for a short time, studying in the department of outpatient medicine. Later that year he was appointed assistant physician at the Kinderspital (Children’s Hospital) in Zurich. By 1950 he was becoming a specialist in paediatric endocrinology and he travelled to New York to continue his training at the Bellevue Hospital. While he was there he visited Lawson Wilkins at Johns Hopkins. Wilkins was the founder of the first paediatric endocrine clinic in the world and Prader was profoundly influenced by him.

In 1957 he obtained his doctorate and five years later he became full professor at Zurich University and, in 1965, head of the department of paediatrics. At the same time he took over the post of director of the Kinderspital, and he remained in all these positions until he retired in 1986.

Throughout his research career he made studies of the growth and development of normal children and investigated endocrine and metabolic disorders, medical genetics, the pathophysiology of steroid hormones and defects of the steroid synthesis. In 1953 he devised the Prader scale which can be used to describe genital virilisation and, three years later, he described the rare genetic disorder known as Prader-Willi syndrome. He was also involved in the discovery and delineation of lipid adrenal hyperplasia, hereditary fructose intolerance and pseudo-vitamin D deficiency.

Considered the ‘Grand Old Man’ of European paediatric endocrinology, he was given many awards and honorary fellowships. In 1962 and 1974 he was president of the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology (ESPE) and from 1972 to 1974 he was president of the Swiss Paediatric Society. In his honour the ESPE established the Andrea Prader Prize in 1987 and it is awarded annually to one of their members in recognition of their work in the field.

RCP editor

[Wikipedia - accessed 18 March 2015; Whonamedit - accessed 18 March 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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