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IN tribute to Ernest Edward Lawrence Gerring (VR, January 16, 2016, vol 178, p 74), JVD, JP and DEN write: Lawrence Gerring was born on January 30, 1937, to a farming family in Oxfordshire. He won a place at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and graduated with honours in December 1961. He managed to squeeze in Christmas and a wedding on December 30 before registering as a veterinary surgeon on January 5, 1962.
It was said that Lawrence had planned his career in four equal segments: a period in practice, a period at ICI, a period at the RVC, and a period in surgical consultancy and working as a claims consultant for the Veterinary Defence Society. This may be somewhat apocryphal but, like most of what he did, it smacked of precision and planning.
His first job, as an assistant, was in Coalville, looking after hundreds of pit ponies as well as cattle work, suiting his agricultural upbringing. He then worked in Reigate in another mixed practice. His move to ICI might have seemed out of step with his background and experience but reflected his formidable intellect. At ICI his work on gut hormones and novel peptides, in particular urogastrone, led to a PhD in 1970.
At that time, halothane was being developed at ICI. One of the areas of work to which the novel anaesthetic was applied was in the development of replacement heart valves in animal models. This added intricate cardiac surgical skill to Lawrence's repertoire. A consequence of this was his secondment to South Africa to assist in Christian Barnard's development of techniques for human heart transplantation. Inevitably this caused Lawrence to be away from his wife Margaret and young family for a period. This personal dilemma was exemplified by his turning down the offer to …