Professor Leslie Pyrah

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The Independent Online
Leslie Pyrah was one of the most eminent surgeons in British urology, whose distinguished career greatly enhanced the status of the speciality and its development as a single specialist entity, and whose work achieved world-wide recognition.

A true Yorkshireman, Pyrah graduated in Medicine from Leeds University in 1924, followed by an MSc in Physiology, and was elected to the Honorary Consultant Staff of the Leeds General Infirmary in 1934. His rather reserved and unassuming manner belied an extremely competent and respected general surgeon. In addition to his general work, Pyrah maintained an interest in surgical research, and later urological research, trying to combine basic science, in particular biochemistry, with clinical practice, and in 1938 was appointed Director of Surgical Research at Leeds University.

An important turning-point in Pyrah's career came in 1950 when he decided to forsake general surgery and to concentrate his efforts in urology, again with a particular emphasis on urological research. In 1956 he was appointed to the first Professorial Chair in Urological Surgery in Britain, at Leeds University, setting a standard of excellence that attracted urological trainees and scientists from around the globe. His personal enthusiasm led to the Medical Research Council's establishing in the same year a research unit, of which he became Honorary Director, into the chemical pathology and causation of renal stone disease.

Further study into bladder malignancy was followed by pioneering work on renal dialysis and the creation of a successful artificial kidney. Under his guidance the Wellcome Wing was established at the General Infirmary in 1959, dedicated to clinical research, which was founded on grants from the Wellcome Foundation, the University and the Endowment Fund of the United Leeds Hospital together with significant local support.

Pyrah was appointed Weild Lecturer at the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow in 1955, the Ramon Guiteras Lecturer to the American Urological Association in 1957 and the Litchfield Lecturer at Oxford University in 1959. Also in 1959 he was awarded the St Peter's Medal by the British Association of Urological Surgeons and in 1975 the Honorary Gold Medal of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, in recognition of his immense surgical achievements.

Outside medicine Pyrah was an avid reader, a more than useful tennis player and a keen ornithologist. In addition he was an accomplished pianist who had considered turning professional in earlier years. British urology can only be thankful that the course he took has left us with such an exciting future.

Adrian D. Joyce

Leslie Norman Pyrah, urologist: born 11 April 1899; Honorary Assistant Surgeon, Leeds General Infirmary 1934-44, Surgeon with charge of Out-patients 1944-50, Senior Consultant Surgeon, Department of Urology, Leeds General Infirmary 1950-64, Honorary Director, Medical Research Council Unit 1956- 64; Lecturer in Surgery, Leeds University 1934-56, Professor of Urological Surgery 1956-64 (Emeritus); CBE 1963; married 1934 Mary Batley (died 1990: one son, one daughter, and one son deceased); died Leeds 30 April 1995.