Dr. Gordon RB Skinner
(21st February 1942 - 26th November 2013)
by Afshan Ahmad
5th December 2013
Gordon Skinner touched so many lives in so many ways.He was my teacher, my colleague and my friend. He was an exceptional scientist who was able to combine his unique intellect with independent thinking to provide optimal care for his patients.
Gordon was born in Glasgow in 1942. He graduated with a medical degree from the University of Glasgow in 1965 and came to work at the Women’s Hospital in Birmingham specialising in Obstetrics and Gynaecology under Professor Hugh McLaren.
He subsequently became a Research Fellow and then a Senior Lecturer in Virology at the Department of Medical Microbiology at the Medical School at the University of Birmingham under Professor Peter Wildy. There are many stories of the two of them working well into the night and making models of statistical analysis using knitting needles.
He carried out a vast amount of work into herpes virus and its association with cervical cancer and went on to develop a vaccine which prevented people from getting infected. He expanded his research areas to include development of many vaccines including against cancer, Aids and hospital infections.
He also founded the Vaccine Research Trust to channel charitable donations to fund research. This charity is still going strong today and will continue his work.
In 1978, he rigorously defended the University of Birmingham and the Head of Department, Professor Henry Bedson following a case of smallpox in a research worker. He was passionate about justice and fair play and never shied away from challenging authority and standing up for what he believed.
He became Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist in 1985 and a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologist in 1989. He was also awarded the degree of Doctorate of Science by the University of Birmingham in 1989.
He worked hard and played hard and was passionate about the Departmental Football Team at the University of Birmingham boasting of the numerous goals he scored. He also played tennis with members of our research group and I remember some questionable line decision the details of which we won’t go into here.
Gordon left the University in 1999 and set up a Thyroid Clinic in Moseley, Birmingham where he successfully treated over 5,000 patients. His research background and excellent clinical training and skills combined with a fearless independence of thought enabled him to treat patients on an individual basis instead of a slavish adherence to guidelines and subservience to those above him. He has retuned thousands of thyroid patients to optimal health and was dedicated to doing the best for his patients and true to his Hippocratic Oath.
Gordon’s thyroid work was repeatedly challenged by the General Medical Council and numerous Endocrinologists but he defended his position with articulate and intelligent argument. The results of his clinical work prove he was correct.
In 2002, Gordon established Vaccine Research International PLC which successfully carried out a clinical trial of a vaccine against hospital infections. This company is on-going and will continue this research.
Gordon has written over 100 scientific papers and patents.
Apart from his unique research and medical skills, Gordon developed some very interesting ideas, one of which was the Acci Pack consisting of items essential in case of an accident. Evidence for this can still be found all over Harborough Banks, his house, in the form of old fashioned phone cards, pencils and little notebooks.
He was a prolific writer and has written books on diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism, statistics and one entitled Dimensionless Constants which Fiona and I helped type and neither of us understood a single word. He has also written a book on rules for children, exercises for travellers, novels, musicals, operas and songs.He was a member of the Rotary Club of Birmingham and Chairman of the Multifaith Project which aimed to promote peace and harmony through religious understanding. He was also a member of the Lunar Society which promotes innovative thinking and ideas.
As a Dad he was perfect, as a doctor he was inspiring and as a researcher he was exceptional. His legacy will live on and we will continue his work for the rest of our lives.
27 February 2014
You are invited to celebrate the Life and Works of Dr Gordon Robert Bruce Skinner to be held at the Lunar Suite, 70 Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2HT on Saturday 3rd May 2014.
We would like to invite his patients, medical colleagues and friends to share in the day and enjoy a series of talks and anecdotes from Dr Skinner's life and further information on how we are committed to continuing the work of this great clinician and scientist with The Vaccine Research Trust.
The day will start at 11am with coffee/tea, drinks and refreshments served throughout the day.
As so many people have expressed an interest in attending please let us know as early as possible if you will be coming.
Our contact details are below and we really look forward to sharing this wonderful day with you.
Vaccine Research Trust,
22 Alcester Road,