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Emeritus Professor Colin R M Prentice, BA, MD, DTM&H, FRCP

As, very sadly, many members will know, Emeritus Professor Colin Prentice, former Professor of Medicine and Head of the University Department of Medicine at the Leeds General Infirmary, died on 1 February 2014.

Professor Prentice, who was born in 1934, attended Marlborough College before reading Medicine at the University of Cambridge, where he was President of the Medical Society.  The clinical component of his undergraduate medical years was spent at Westminster Hospital, London.  He graduated BA in 1956 and MB BChir in 1959.  Having completed his house appointments at Westminster and Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, and having gained the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, he spent his period of national service as part of a rural medical team in Laos, under the Colombo Plan.  During his time in Laos, Professor Prentice and a colleague were temporarily captives of the Pathet Lao, along with the First Secretary of the British Embassy who was himself taken prisoner when he came to seek to negotiate their release.  On his return to the United Kingdom in 1963, Professor Prentice was appointed as a Medical Registrar at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.  He spent 1965-66 as a Research Fellow of the American Heart Foundation at Western Reserve University, Cleveland, and in 1968 took up a Medical Research Council Fellowship in the University Department of Medicine at Glasgow.  He was subsequently appointed Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in 1970, Senior Lecturer (with Honorary Consultant status) in 1974 and Reader in Medicine in 1979.

During his years in Glasgow, Professor Prentice built up an international reputation in the field of blood coagulation.  From 1971 onwards his responsibilities included being Director of the Haemophilia Reference Centre at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, with responsibility for the treatment of patients with haemophilia and Christmas disease as well as other inherited and acquired coagulation disorders.  He was also Director of the Coagulation Research Laboratory, achieving considerable distinction in this role and producing an impressive stream of high-quality publications.  He was awarded his MD by Cambridge in 1971 and was made FRCP (London) in 1976 and FRCP (Glasgow) in 1977.

In 1983, Professor Prentice was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Medicine at the Leeds General Infirmary, succeeding Professor George McNicol with whom he had worked during his years in Glasgow. At Leeds, in tandem with his extensive clinical responsibilities for patient care as an Honorary Consultant, his zest for clinical research continued unabated.  In all, he published some 300 papers, involving many collaborators, in the fields of diseases involving abnormal bleeding, or blood clotting, leading to thrombosis.  His research output includes important observations on the care of patients with haemophilia; mechanisms of the dissolution of blood clots; abnormalities of blood coagulation in pregnancy and the use of platelet inhibiting drugs to prevent thrombosis.  His research standing was well illustrated by his membership of a wide range of national and international scientific committees and the many appointments he held.  He edited Thrombosis Research from 1979 to 1983, was President of the British Society for Haemostasis and Thrombosis in 1985-86, and served on an expert group of the World Health Organisation on the detection of haemophilia carriers, the Royal College of Physicians’ Committee on Haematology and the Advisory Board of the European Concerted Action on Thrombosis.  He was much in demand as a speaker at a wide variety of scientific gatherings, his grasp of his subject being complemented by an elegant, eloquent and lucid presentational style.  His considerable abilities as a clinician also made him a very capable teacher of clinical skills to medical undergraduates.

Professor Prentice retired in 2000, when the title of Emeritus Professor was conferred upon him.

Professor Prentice is survived by his wife, Patricia, two sons and a daughter, and a stepson and stepdaughter.

The funeral service was held on 12 February.  On that day, the flag was flown at half-mast on the Parkinson Building in Professor Prentice’s memory.