Professor Bryan F Warren 1958-2012

Posted 03 May 2012 in

Bryan WarrenBryan Warren, great friend of Colorectal Surgery and an outstanding gastrointestinal pathologist of international renown, died at home on 28th March 2012. He was in a word, unique.

Bryan was born in Cheshire and read medicine at theUniversityofLiverpool. He was drawn to gastroenterology no doubt from his own experience of inflammatory bowel disease. In early childhood he was diagnosed with Crohns disease and although not widely known, this had a crucial effect on him growing up. He died of a cancer complication which over 5 years he fought with enormous courage and stoicism letting it interfere with his life as little as possible.

In Bristol whilst training as a histopathologist he developed an interest in a colony of cotton top tamarin at theVetSchool. These small monkeys have a spontaneous colitis, a perfect model for developing scoring systems for the various microscopic appearances of colitis. A string of publications followed and confirmed his obsession with gastrointestinal pathology.

He and we were delighted when he was appointed consultant in Oxford in 1994. He was above all a supreme clinical pathologist, visiting the endoscopy suite to correlate macroscopic and microscopic changes, and regularly inviting us to the cut up room next to theatres to discuss and demonstrate the opened resections. His reports were meticulous and every detail was recorded. He loved being asked to help with a clinical problem or a research project , and was often still in his office at 9 or 10 in the evening even on a Saturday. He would be found  working through mountains of slides, giving second opinions or completing the latest book or manuscript.

Aside from his many friends in pathology and gastroenterology – he was a key figure in the pathology section of the BSG – we surgeons were fans too. He was approachable, clearly enjoyed teaching and enthusiastically shared the mysteries of histopathology with us. He was a longstanding  member of the ACPGBI  and became an early expert in consultant corner sessions at our annual meetings where his pithy observations made him a star. Our trainees had a taste of the Warrenstyle in his regular contributions to the M62 course. He came to Verbier  for many years bringing his advice and excellence to the meeting and even learned to ski and get lost on the mountain.

Bryanwas a superb conference organiser being meetings secretary to the Association of Clinical Pathologists, and the British Division of the International Association of Pathologists who awarded him the Cunningham medal in 2010. He was made honorary FRCP in 2007, and honorary Professor in theUniversityofLondonin 2009. He was made Honorary Member of the ACPGBI in 2010.

He was an author of numerous original papers, chapters and books. He was particularly proud to be the editor of Morson and Dawson’s  beautiful “Gastrointestinal Pathology” and the Vth edition will be dedicated to his memory.

Outside medicine he had an extraordinary enthusiasm for driving and cars. He was an active member of the High Performance Club and the Bristol Owners Club and had restored two classics. To him the daily drive to Oxfordfrom north of Bristolwhere he lived with Tracyhis wife was a joy not a chore. Bryan could enthuse about a simple change of gear.

We will miss his no nonsense blunt northern charm, his energy, his enormous capacity for hard work and his easy friendship. He was a character who lived life to the full, and in the process brightened our lives too.

Neil Mortensen, Oxford