Professor John Utting
Professor John Utting was born in Liverpool into a long established family. His grandfather was an Alderman and a Lord Mayor of the City and is still remembered in that “Utting Avenue” was named after him. John grew up in Liverpool and was educated at Liverpool College. From there, he went to Peterhouse College, Cambridge to study pre-clinical medicine and somewhat unusually returned to Liverpool for his clinical medical studies. After house jobs he started anaesthesia in Wigan and then joined the Liverpool course and rotation. In the early 1960’s he spent a year as a lecturer in the University Department of Anaesthesia and together with Prof John Robinson and Ian Pimblett, worked on acid-base balance and, in particular, on hyperventilation. He returned to the rotation at Alder Hey and Broadgreen. He was then appointed as a part-time senior lecturer with consultant status which resulted in further acid base studies with Dr Fadl. In addition, there was research on the assessment of neuromuscular blockade with Ali and Gray which led to highly rated publications. There was also the work on dreaming during anaesthesia with David Brice which was also highly regarded. During this time, he had total responsibility for the undergraduate teaching of anaesthesia which was and still remains a very important source of recruitment to the speciality.
In 1977, he was appointed to the newly established chair in anaesthesia. He immediately turned his attention to the development of research in the area of renal physiology/ pharmacology and recruited two lecturers, Jennifer Hunter and Iain Campbell. They each boosted research in the areas of muscle relaxation and nutrition in intensive care respectively.
What of John Utting, the man? He was a very private person and one of the most self-effacing people I have known: a man of high intellect with considerable literary ability as demonstrated by his editorship of Gray, Nunn and Utting and its progression to two volumes. John tended to shy away from national committees and societies and preferred to be at home in Liverpool. He was the most generous of men both with his time and support but also with his money. A number of trainees, particularly from overseas and members of the non-academic staff were supported financially with only a very few people, other than the recipient, being aware.
As far as support is concerned there were a considerable number of people in the area whose careers would have been ended at a young age if it had not been for John’s caring influence.
He served the City of Liverpool for many years as a Magistrate. He was also active and influential within the University where he served as a Pro Vice-Chancellor and latterly held the prestigious post of Public Orator.