Lives of the fellows

Ronald Graham Grainger

b.14 October 1922 d.22 August 2014
MB ChB Leeds(1945) MD(1948) MRCP(1951) DMRD(1952) FFR(1954) FRCP(1971) Hon FACR(1974) FRCR(1975) Hon FRACR(1979)

Ronald Grainger was professor of diagnostic radiology at the University of Sheffield and played a major role in the transformation of the specialty at the end of the 20th century. Born in Leeds as Ronald Goldberg, his father, Abraham, was a tailor who was born in Krakow in Poland and, as a young child, had fled the pogroms in Eastern Europe; his mother was Hettie Goldberg née Handworker, the daughter of a tailor. Grainger studied medicine at Leeds University and qualified in 1945.

He was a house physician at Leeds General Infirmary and then a resident medical officer at Doncaster Royal Infirmary from 1947 to 1950. In 1953 he began his training in radiology as a registrar at Westminster Hospital in London. From 1954 to 1959 he was a senior registrar at St Thomas’ Hospital. During this period he changed his name to Grainger, believing an anglicised name was necessary for professional advancement.

In 1957 he was appointed as a consultant radiologist at the Hospitals for Diseases of the Chest in London. Two years later, he became a consultant radiologist in Sheffield, eventually becoming the first professor of radiology there and head of the department. At Sheffield he established the academic department and played a leading role in the development of the radiology department at the newly opened Royal Hallamshire Hospital. In 1985 he led a successful fundraising appeal for Sheffield’s first computed tomography scanner.

Grainger’s research focused on the development of radiological contrast media (agents which show up images and systems on X rays and scans), which revolutionised the diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases and neurological disorders. This work led to Grainger being asked to conduct UK clinical trials for four contrast agents.

He was a fellow of the American College of Radiology and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists. In 1983 he became a vice president of the Royal College of Radiologists. On 18 occasions he was an overseas visiting professor.

He wrote more than 100 scientific papers and was on the editorial board of several leading medical journals. He was editor of Clinical Radiology for five years. He wrote or edited several textbooks, including Diagnostic radiology: an Anglo-American textbook of imaging (Edinburgh, Churchill Livingstone), co-edited with David Allison, known as ‘Grainger and Allison’, and now regarded as a key radiological text in many countries. First published in 1986, Grainger lived to see the sixth edition in 2014.

He was married to Ruth (née Jason). They had two sons, David and Jonathan, and four grandchildren.

RCP editor

[BMJ 2014 349 6740 – accessed 19 June 2017; The Guardian 21 September 2014 – accessed 19 June 2017; The Royal College of Radiologists Professor Ronald Grainger Obituaries – Clinical radiology – accessed 19 June 2017]

(Volume XII, page web)

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