Lives of the fellows

James Edmond Wraith

b.30 October 1953 d.10 April 2013
MB ChB Sheffield(1977) MRCP(1980) FRCP(1993) FRCPCH(1998)

Ed Wraith was clinical director of the Willink biochemical genetics unit, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, and an expert on lysosomal storage diseases, a group of rare, inherited metabolic disorders. He was born in South Shields, the son of James Edmond Wraith, a merchant seaman, and Victoria Wraith, a housewife. He was educated at South Shields Grammar School and then went on to study medicine at Sheffield University, qualifying in 1977.

He held house posts in Sheffield and Rotherham, and then, in 1979, he first went to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, as a senior house officer and subsequently a paediatric registrar and senior registrar. From 1985 to 1987 he was a clinical fellow at the Murdoch Institute for Research into Birth Defects in Melbourne, Australia. In 1988 he was appointed to his post at the Willink biochemical genetics unit, becoming the director in 1993.

He trained as a general paediatrician, but focused on lysosomal storage diseases. During his career he identified many major genetic mutations in storage diseases, including the mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) types, leading to better clinical classifications and treatments. He also wrote the NHS guidelines of the management of MPSI, MPSII and MPSVI, Niemann-Pick type C disease, infantile Pompe disease and paediatric Gaucher disease. He became the UK expert on these diseases; patients came to Manchester from all over the world for a diagnosis and Wraith travelled widely, lecturing and running clinics. He developed close links with patient groups.

He led or was the coinvestigator on more than 20 clinical trials, which resulted in the development of enzyme replacement therapy for many lysosomal storage diseases. Six drugs were licensed as a result of these trials and new products developed to treat MPSI, MPSII and MPSIV, Fabry disease and Pompe disease. Wraith also collaborated with the bone marrow transplantation group at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, investigating the use of stem cell transfer as a treatment for the lysosomal storage diseases.

At the time of his election to the fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in 1993 he listed squash, tug of war and gardening as his interests. He was also a lifelong supporter of Newcastle United Football Club.

He was diagnosed with a rare neurodegenerative disorder in 2009 and died four years later. He was survived by his wife Sue, whom he married in 1976, and their three children.

RCP editor

[BMJ 2013 346 3238 www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f3238 – accessed 18 April 2016; The Shields Gazette 11 May 2013 www.shieldsgazette.com/news/legacy-of-south-shields-professor-will-live-on-1-5662347 – accessed 18 April 2016]

(Volume XII, page web)

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