Ker Prize awarded to Gill Wilson

Ker Memorial Prize and Lecture

The Ker Memorial Prize is awarded ananually to the PhD student who has submitted the best thesis in infectious diseases during that year.

The Ker Memorial Prize for 2012 was awarded to Dr Gill Wilson at the Edinburgh Infectious Diseases annual symposium held at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 31 May, 2012.

 The award committee gave the prize for Gill's thesis entitled

"A novel core genome-encoded superantigen contributes to lethality of community-associated MRSA necrotizing pneumonia"

describing work she carried out in Dr Ross Fitzgerald's lab at The Roslin Institute.


History of the Ker family involvement with infectious diseases in Edinburgh

The Ker Memorial Prize and Lecture are generously supported by a donation by Miss Aileen Ker (pronounced "car") in memory of her father, Dr Frank Leighton Ker and her grandfather, Dr Claude Buchanan Ker.


Dr Claude B Ker was oiginally 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.  His MD thesis was on typhoid fever, in 1896, for which he was awarded a gold medal. In that year, he 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.

Colinton Mains Fever Hospital, built 1897–1903, under the direction of Dr Claude Ker, who 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, Dr Ker was appointed a University lecturer in infectious diseases and he was a rigorous researcher in the field, introducing the Schick test to the UK.  He was recognised as an outstanding authority in infectious diseases, whose opinion was sought in doubtful and/or difficult cases.  He wrote a number of publications and books, including A Manual of Fevers (ed 1 - 1911, ed 2 - 1922) and Infectious Diseases (ed 1 - 1909, ed 2 - 1920).  A Manual of Fevers was intended to assist medical students, although intended to be useful beyond the period of training.  Ker’s Infectious Diseases deals in an authorative way with infectious diseases which were common in the UK at the time of writing.  His work is 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.  

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 a 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.  


This brief history of the Ker family given above was kindly provided by Prof Tony Nash, The Roslin Institute.


For more information about the Ker Memorial Prize and obituaries of Dr. C.B. Ker and Dr. F.L. Ker please click here.



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