Professor Dame Sheila Patricia Violet Sherlock, a British physician, is considered one of the world's leading authorities on liver disease and a pioneer in the science of hepatology.She was born in Dublin in 1918.She went to Edinburgh University in 1936, where she studied the biochemistry of the liver and its disorders. When Dr. Sherlock began her medical career in the early 1940's, very little was known about liver disease, and hepatology was not even a recognized branch of medicine.Her classic reference work, ''Diseases of the Liver and Biliary System'', now in its 11th edition and used throughout the world, was the first standard textbook on clinical liver disease.Throughout her career, she conducted clinical research that led to improved diagnosis and treatment of liver disease and that helped establish and later enhance the field of hepatology.In 1959, she became the first woman to be promoted to a professorship of medicine at the Royal Free Hospital in London, where she helped set up and direct a world famous clinical, research and training center on liver disease.In 1966, she helped create what is now a standard test in diagnosing primary biliary cirrhosis. A few of her contributions to hepatology are, the role of the hepatitis B virus in the development of cirrhosis and liver cancer, autoimmunity as the cause of primary biliary cirrhosis, and the great benefit of corticosteroid therapy for autoimmune hepatitis.Throughout her career Dr. Sherlock published more than 600 papers on the liver. In 1986, she received the Distinguished Service Award of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, which is awarded only on a special basis. She died on 30 December 2001, aged 83, from pulmonary fibrosis.
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