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Statement on the passing of Professor Anthony Gershlick

Statement on the passing of Professor Anthony Gershlick

NIHR CRN East Midlands joins the research community in mourning the passing of Professor Anthony Gershlick. Below is a tribute from Kathryn Fairbrother, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, who had a close working relationship with Professor Gershlick and offers her condolences on behalf of the entire Network.

Professor Anthony Gershlick (Tony) was a pioneering Cardiologist known around the world for his groundbreaking research.  He was a passionate clinician, always wanting the very best for his patients - taking it personally when he was unable to save the sickest of patients and elated when he saved those not expected to survive.

Tony started his career in St Mary’s Hospital, London, moving to the London Hospital and chose Groby Road Hospital, Leicester for his first Consultant post in 1988. 

It was never Tony’s intention to be a Cardiologist; his preferred specialty was Nephrology but when seeking a middle grade post, there were no renal jobs available. He took an intermediate job in Cardiology at the London Hospital so ‘he could pay his mortgage’ but in that time he worked with such inspirational people that they changed his career path.

Professor Gershlick has been involved in coronary intervention since it was introduced in the UK, undertaking his first procedure in the mid 1980’s. He was the first to implant a drug eluting stent in the UK and has been involved in practice changing procedures and treatment ever since.

He showed a keen interest in research in the very early days of his job at the London Hospital and in 1984 was awarded the British Cardiac Society’s Young Investigator Award.  Tony went on to be involved in hundreds of research projects and led some of the most important cardiology trials in the world, most notably the REACT trial which he highlighted as being the work he was most proud of, saying: “we didn’t really know what to do with patients who had failed with thrombolysis and this UK trial told us.”

The results of the trial were incorporated into UK, European and US clinical guidelines for treating patients with heart attacks. In 2017, he was awarded the inaugural British Cardiac Society Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the field of coronary intervention.

At the time of his death, Tony was the Chief Investigator for a number of NIHR portfolio trials - his colleagues and team will endeavor to complete the trials to ensure his legacy continues.

Throughout his career, Tony was always humble. In 2009 he was quoted in the Journal of the American Heart Association as saying “I am so shocked that they pay me to do what I do. It is a great, great job.” He often attributed his success not just to his hard work but to his family's unwavering support for him to undertake his work.

When being offered a personal chair at the University of Leicester in 2009, his inauguration speech was peppered with major influences in his life including Balcon, de Bono, and Rothman, but his final slide showed a picture of him and his mother whom he credited with being his biggest inspiration of all.

We would like to take this opportunity to pass on our condolences to his beloved family and thank him for his great contribution to research within and beyond the East Midlands.

Kathryn Fairbrother
Deputy Chief Operating Officer
NIHR CRN East Midlands