Edinburgh Infectious Diseases
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The Ker family gift and infectious diseases

Edinburgh Infectious Diseases is extremely grateful to the Ker family for their support of training and research in infectious diseases in Edinburgh.

About the Ker family

The Ker Memorial PhD Studentship is very generously supported by Miss Aileen Ker (pronounced "Car"), in memory of two outstanding Edinburgh physicians, her grandfather Dr. Claude Buchanan Ker, and his son (her father), Dr. Frank Leighton Ker.

The Ker family also support the presentation of the yearly Ker Memorial Lecture, given by an eminent invited scientist in Infectious Diseases and the Ker Memorial Prize, awarded annually to the student submitting the best PhD thesis in infectious disease research.

The glowing and heartfelt obituaries written for Drs Claude and Frank Ker, show the enormous regard and affection in which they were held, and to which the Ker Memorial Studentship, Prize and Lecture now provide fitting testimony.

Dr Claude Buchanan Ker (1867-1925)

Dr Claude B Ker was originally from Cheltenham, where his father was a well-known medical practitioner, and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh.  After an initial interest in medical psychology, his focus turned to infectious diseases, becoming the Assistant Medical Officer at the Edinburgh Fever Hospital.  

In 1896 he went on to became the superintendent at the Fever Hospital, and he worked tirelessly with the assistance of others to establish a new fever hospital, the Colinton Mains Fever Hospital (later known as the City Hospital), which was opened in 1903 on the south side of Edinburgh. He held the position of the hospital’s first medical Superintendent for the hospital’s first twenty-one years.

Along with his daily medical responsibilities, in 1904, he was appointed a University lecturer in infectious diseases and he was a rigorous researcher in the field.  He was recognised as an outstanding authority in infectious diseases, whose opinion was sought in doubtful or difficult cases.  He wrote a number of publications and books, including Infectious Diseases (first published in 1909), and Ker's Manual of Fevers (first published in 1911). 

His work was characterised by keen observation, and was highly admired and valued by his contemporaries.  One such contemporary, Dr Andrew Balfour, described Dr Ker as "intensely alive, intensely human, full of humour and sympathy, and utterly devoid of anything savouring of advertisement or self-seeking."  He encouraged and stimulated those around him.  Dr Claude B Ker died at the age of 58 very suddenly of influenza-related pneumonia in 1925.  

Claude Buchanan Ker, Obituary, BMJ, 1925

Some memories of the Old City Hopsital and of Dr Claude Buchanan Ker, CC Easterbrook, Edinb. Med. J., 1946

Dr Frank Leighton Ker (1907 - 1966)

Dr Frank L Ker was born in Edinburgh in 1907, and after training at Cambridge and Edinburgh, he qualified to be a doctor.  After initial appointments in Edinburgh, he moved to Little Bromwich Hospital (east Birmingham), where he spent most of his career, finally as its medical superintendent.  

He saw active service during the Second World War with the Royal Army Medical Corps, for which he was awarded the OBE and the Territorial Decoration.  He was noted expert in his field, both in the UK and abroad.  He rewrote his father’s text book, Ker’s Manual of Fevers and wrote a number of publications.  He died suddenly in 1966, aged 59.  His obituary mentions his selfless commitment to the service of others, and his strong sense of duty, treating the sick with kindness, compassion and consideration.