Lives of the fellows

Alan Herbert Wilkinson

b.11 July 1948 d.19 June 2011
BSc(1969) MB BCh(1975) MRCP(1980) FRCP(1996)

Alan Herbert (‘Bert’) Wilkinson was a nephrologist who became professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and director of the kidney and pancreas transplantation unit. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa he was the son of Raymond Cothelstone Wilkinson, a businessman, and his wife Florence Nonie (‘Noni’) née Levick who was a nurse. He was educated at Queen’s College, Queenstown where his grandfather, after whom he had been named, had been a distinguished headmaster; he became head boy in 1965. After studying medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and house jobs at the Witwatersrand University Hospital, he moved to the UK to continue his training in nephrology.

From 1978 to 1980 he was a senior house officer at Guy’s Hospital before moving to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington as a registrar. The following year, in 1982, he moved to Portsmouth as a senior registrar and lecturer in medicine at St Mary’s Hospital, and then returned to Guy’s as a senior registrar and research fellow in the renal unit, where he stayed for three years.

He moved to Los Angeles, California in 1985 and was appointed professor of medicine at the UCLA School of Medicine and director of the kidney and pancreas transplantation unit. Apart from a year spent at the University of Iowa from 1987 to 1988, he stayed at UCLA until his early retirement due to ill health. During his time there he developed and extended the kidney transplant programme, giving it both a national and international reputation. The author of numerous scientific papes and chapters in books, he was much in demand as a speaker at various conferences and congresses. In 2010 he was awarded the award for excellence in education by the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the American Society of Transplanation’s Ernest Hodge distinguished achievement award.

A keen gardener and ornithologist, he created a beautiful garden at his home in Los Angeles, where he managed to grow many plants from his native South Africa – including many succulents for which he had a particular flair – and attracted many birds with the special plants he grew and his bird feeders. A convivial man, he loved good wine, good food and good stories.

While he was a student at Witwatersrand, he met Angelika Andrea Adami, a periodontist, and they married in 1984. He developed a rare form of motor-neuron disease and lived with the increasingly debilitating effects for a number of years, coping with courage, humour and dignity. When he died at his home, he was survived by Angelika, their daughter Rebecca, his mother Noni and sister, Mary.

RCP editor

[Los Angeles Times www.legacy.com/obituaries/latimes/obituary.aspx?pid=152139663; Queen’s College www.queenscollege.co.za/oldboys/article/qcoba-mourns-the-death-of-alan-wilkinson - both accessed 6 October 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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