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Donald Singer Obituary | Medicines


My father, Donald Singer, who has died aged 67 of cardiac arrest, was a clinical scientist who spent most of his career at St George’s Hospital Medical School in London before moving to the University of Warwick as founding professor of clinical pharmacology and therapeutic agents.

Donald was born in Forres, north-east of Inverness, to Isabel (née Brown), a maths teacher, and her husband Denis Singer, a chemistry teacher. Part of Donald’s childhood was spent with his family in Iraq and Bahrain, where his father worked for a time as an instructor at the technical centers of Iraq Petroleum and then Bahrain Petroleum. He attended secondary school in Scotlandat Mackie Academy in Stonehaven and then studied medicine at the University of Aberdeen, where in 1972 he met fellow student Fiona Carswell. She became a language teacher and they married in 1978.

Four years later, they moved to London, where Donald completed postgraduate studies at Hammersmith, Charing Cross and St George’s Hospitals. He was a Research Fellow at St George’s Hospital Medical School from 1989 before becoming a Senior Lecturer and Reader in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics. In 2003 he moved to the University of Warwick, where he was also Co-Director of the European Society of Hypertension Center of Excellence until his retirement at the end of 2013.

Donald was an active member of many medical societies and committees, including the British and Irish Hypertension Society. His interests were in finding new approaches to personalizing medicine; in chemical and genomic research for drug discovery and their adverse effects; prevention and treatment of hypertension and other heart and blood circulation disorders; and in public understanding of health.

In 2009, he founded together with the poet Michael Hulse, Hippocrates Prize in Poetry and Medicinewhich became an annual international competition.

After his retirement, Donald served as President of the Graduate Fellowship Medicines and worked in Rwanda as a faculty member at the Yale School of Medicine. He has also been a member of the European Medicines Agency Working Group and has contributed to a number of medical journals.

He had an extraordinary breadth of knowledge in the arts and sciences, which was never more evident than during the weekly Guardian quiz family Zoom calls that kept us all connected during the lockdown.

He had a wide range of interests: bird watching, playing the violin, golf, bridge and tennis, and he devoted himself wholeheartedly to each of them. Just before he died, he had his first fishing lesson, and on a recent trip to the stately home, which offered tree-climbing with a harness – though probably for children – he happily joined in.

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

Donald is survived by Fionn, his three children, Ramsay, Eleanor and myself, and two grandchildren, Freya and Angus.

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