Donald Singer obituary

Other lives: Founding professor of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics at the University of Warwick

My father, Donald Singer, who has died aged 67 of a cardiac arrest, was a clinical academic who worked at St George’s Hospital Medical School in London for much of his career before moving to the University of Warwick as its founding professor of clinical pharmacology and therapeutics.

Donald was born in Forres, north-east of Inverness, to Isabel (nee Brown), a maths teacher, and her husband, Dennis Singer, a chemistry teacher. Part of Donald’s childhood was spent with his family in Iraq and Bahrain, where his father worked for a period as a lecturer at the technical centres of Iraq Petroleum and then Bahrain Petroleum. His secondary schooling took place back in Scotland, at Mackie Academy in Stonehaven, and then he did his medical training at the University of Aberdeen, where he met Fiona Carswell, a fellow student, in 1972. She became a languages teacher, and they married in 1978.

Four years later they moved to London, where Donald completed his postgraduate medical training at Hammersmith, Charing Cross and St George’s hospitals. From 1989 he was a research fellow at St George’s Hospital Medical School, before becoming a senior lecturer and reader in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics. In 2003 he moved to the University of Warwick, and while there was also co-director of the European Society of Hypertension Centre of Excellence until his retirement at the end of 2013.

Donald was active in many medical societies and committees, including the British and Irish Hypertension Society. His interests were in looking at new approaches to personalising medicine; in chemical and genomic research for the discovery of medicines and their harmful effects; the prevention and treatment of hypertension and other disorders of the heart and circulation; and in public understanding of health.

In 2009 he co-founded, with the poet Michael Hulse, the Hippocrates prize for poetry and medicine, which became an annual international competition.

After retirement Donald was president of the Fellowship of Postgraduate Medicine and worked in Rwanda as a member of the faculty of Yale School of Medicine. He was also a member of a working party of the European Medicines Agency, and contributed to a number of medical journals.

He had a remarkable breadth of knowledge of the arts and sciences, which was never more on display than during weekly family Zoom calls to do the Guardian quiz, which kept us all connected during lockdown.

He had a huge range of interests, enjoying birdwatching, playing the violin, golf, bridge and tennis, and he threw himself wholeheartedly into each one. Just before his death he had his first fishing lesson, and on a recent trip to a stately home, where harness-assisted tree-climbing was on offer – though probably intended for children – he joined in with glee.

He was unfailingly kind, helpful, polite, and discreet at all times.

Donald is survived by Fiona, his three children, Ramsay, Eleanor and me, and two grandchildren, Freja and Angus.

Emma Thompson

The GuardianTramp

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