Paul A. Bacon, MD, professor emeritus of the University of Birmingham’s Department of Rheumatology, died on Jan. 5, 2018. The news of his passing saddened those who had the good fortune to know and collaborate with him. He was admired for his indefatigable dedication to measurement in rheumatic disease, especially vasculitis, as well as to collaborations across disciplines and to new ventures.
Upon hearing the news, Philip Seo, MD, director of The Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center, associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and the physician editor of The Rheumatologist, commented, “Paul Bacon was responsible for creating many of the early measurement instruments in lupus and vasculitis. In clinical trials of vasculitis in particular, the challenge is always how to prove that one intervention is better than another. Paul Bacon basically invented the yardstick.”
In 2010, The Rheumatologist ran a profile on Dr. Bacon. He told us that choosing medicine meant that he became “the black sheep of the family,” because he broke with family tradition to do so. Both his grandfather and father were actuaries. Encouraged by “an extremely good biology master” at his Quaker school, the young Dr. Bacon sat for the Cambridge entrance exams, was accepted, and then did his clinical studies at the “ancient” hospital of St. Bartholomew, founded in 1123.