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Biographical entry Kerr, Alan Sutcliffe (1909 - 1977)

MRCS and FRCS 1935; MB ChB Liverpool 1932.

31 May 1909
21 January 1977


Alan Sutcliffe Kerr was born in Liverpool on 31 May 1909 and educated at the Liverpool Institute for Boys and Liverpool University. He graduated MB ChB with first class honours in 1932.

He chose a career in surgery and his interests were directed into the field of neurosurgery. Three years later he proceeded to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and was a Hunterian Professor of the College in 1937, the same year as he was awarded a Rockefeller Fellowship. He was Streatfield Research Scholar 1939. After a period of training in America he was entrusted with the task of developing a neurosurgical service in the Emergency Medical Service Hospital at Winick, near Liverpool. With the inauguration of the NHS the team he had built up at Winick was transferred to Walton Hospital, Liverpool, to become the regional neurosurgical unit. Despite the restrictions and confines of working in an ex-workhouse hospital Alan Kerr built up a large and efficient neurosurgical service which encompassed the specialities of both neuroradiology and neuropathology. The culmination of his long struggles was the opening of the new regional department of medical and surgical neurology at Walton Hospital in 1972. In addition to his work at Walton he ran an active consulting surgical practice and also was visiting consultant at the paraplegic unit at Southport.

Alan Kerr was an active participant at the meetings of both national and international neurosurgical societies and frequently travelled abroad visiting other neurosurgical units. He was an active teacher in the University of Liverpool and an active participant in the Liverpool Medical Institution, becoming President of this society shortly before his retirement. He was endowed with great strength of character and determination, which enabled him to overcome a serious illness and return to full neurosurgical practice. He always found time to listen to a colleague's problem and give sound advice and encouragement when called for. A careful, efficient surgeon himself, who kept in touch with all developments in his speciality.

He was equally effective as a teacher and left behind him on his retirement a tradition which has spread far beyond Merseyside. One of his special interests was the contribution of neurosurgery to the care and treatment of the paraplegic patient. He was appreciative of the company of his friends and colleagues, who frequently enjoyed his hospitality. In later years his keen interest in archaeology resulted in trips to the Middle East in pursuance of this hobby. He married Melva Day of Western Australia in 1937 and had two daughters and one son. He died on 21 January 1977 aged 67 years.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 26 January 1977; Brit med J 1977, 1, 517].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England