Prof: the life of Sheila Sherlock, the 'liver queen'

Prof: the life of Sheila Sherlock, the 'liver queen'


By Om P Sharma

Sheila Sherlock was an extraordinary woman, not only for her professional achievements, but also because they were gained against the odds, solely by her own talents and endeavour. In this biography, Om Sharma weaves her personal story into its historical context, picking out detail from both to enhance and enliven the other. Illustrating his material with photos throughout, the author begins with her ill-matched parents, an unhappy union from which her father fled and remained largely absent.. From a single-parent family, then, Sheila emerged a precocious child, who by sheer diligence and discipline became one of the most dazzling medical personalities of the latter half of the twentieth century.

After graduating from Edinburgh University with a Gold Medal, she went to the Hammersmith Hospital where she established the world's first liver disease unit. Thriving in the vibrant research atmosphere of the Hammersmith, she produced an array of landmark studies on liver-related issues , becoming a world renowned hepatologist. Om Sharma uses his research and many interviews with her contemporaries to convey, with humour and insight, a sense of that era, of Sheila's style and her forthright and sometimes controversial methods of advancing medical knowledge.

At 32, she was the youngest woman ever to be elected Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London, and the first woman in Europe to be appointed Professor of Medicine. In 1978 she was honoured with a DBE, and in 1991 she became a Fellow of the Royal Society. She was a keen sportswoman, avid patron of the theatre, and dedicated wife and mother. Her fifty-year marriage to Dr Geraint James is the love story braided into this biography.

About the author

Om Sharma is a Professor of Medicine at Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and a Master Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians. Editor of Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine, Dr Sharma has authored or edited five books, eight monographs, and written about 500 articles, short papers, editorials and reviews on the topics of sarcoidosis, tropical medicine, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, interstitial lung disease, other pulmonary disorders and the history of medicine.


  • In the beginning
  • Dublin
  • London
  • Sandgate
  • Edinburgh
  • Finding her way
  • The Hammersmith, part 1
  • Wuppertal, 'Wuppie' and the Queen Mother
  • American interlude, part 1
  • The Hammersmith, part 2
  • The enigmatic Welshman
  • American interlude, part 2 
  • Two peas in a pod: a happy marriage
  • The balance of life and work
  • A tempest
  • The Royal Free Hospital
  • From a hut to a mecca of hepatology
  • The Royal Free talents
  • The teacher and her art
  • Medical practice
  • Family life
  • Love of sports
  • International trips
  • The Royal Northern Hospital and the Athenaeum
  • The portrait
  • Honours
  • The book
  • In the end
  • Legacy and memorials

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Prof: the life of Sheila Sherlock, the 'liver queen'