Professor of surgical oncology

Born: August 3, 1960;

Died: September 3, 2016

PROFESSOR Ken Fearon, who has died suddenly aged 55, was professor of surgical oncology at Edinburgh University and an honorary consultant colorectal surgeon at the Western General Hospital.

He was proud of his West of Scotland roots. He was a distinguished undergraduate at Glasgow University, completing his medical degree with honours in 1982 and being awarded the Brunton Medal. His first publication in surgical literature resulted from research undertaken as an undergraduate.

From 1983 to 1986, he was the Cancer Research Clinical Research Fellow in the department of oncology in Glasgow University under the mentorship of Professor Kenneth Calman but he had already decided on a surgical career by the time he had submitted his MD thesis, Mechanisms and Treatment of Cancer Cachexia, in 1987.

His postgraduate research developed into a life-long interest in the areas of cancer cachexia, human nutrition, metabolism and the metabolic response to surgery.

He had been recognised as a rising star in surgery and followed Sir David Carter to Edinburgh being appointed as lecturer in surgery at the University of Edinburgh in 1988. He rose through the ranks, first as senior lecturer in 1993 and subsequently as professor of surgical oncology in 1999.

Despite a busy specialist colorectal practice, he was a committed teacher to his undergraduate students and training surgeons. He always had time to supervise a number of talented young researchers within his international collaborative group of scientists and clinical scientists.

His clinical research was aimed at the development of trial methodology including early biomarkers and novel outcome measures. He conducted several of the largest prospective randomised intervention trials in cancer cachexia and had a major interest in nutritional pharmacology. He developed a keen interest in improvement of clinical outcomes and was a founding member of the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) Group and was chairman of the board of the ERAS Society.

He served on numerous national and international committees, influencing the direction of research in cancer and palliative care through his roles in the National Cancer Research Institute. He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and held ad eundum fellowships of the surgical colleges of Edinburgh and England.

He received many accolades during his career. He was presented with the Cuthbertson Medal from the Nutrition Society in 1991, the Hippocrates Award from the Society on Sarcopenia, Cachexia and Wasting Disorders (SCWD) in 2009 and the Arvid Wretlind Award from the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism in 2011. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by Orebro University in Sweden.

Along with these academic achievements, those who knew him were well aware of his intense intellect and his clinical acumen. He was entirely focused on the needs of his patients and was a most sympathetic, skilled and caring surgeon. His colleagues enjoyed his company and the intellectual jousting on his wide-ranging interests.

He enjoyed his golf which had been honed on the Ayrshire links golf courses as a young man. He always seemed to be troubled by the use of his driver off the tee but mastered the one iron with a skill that many a professional would have been proud.

He is survived by his two children and his wife, Professor Marie Fallon, with whom he had forged a formidable partnership at work and at home.