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Robert J Gorlin, DDS, MS (1923–2006): a geneticist for all countries
  1. Dian Donnai
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor Dian Donnai
 Clinical Genetics, St Mary’s Hospital, Hathersage Road, Manchester, M13 0JH, UK; dian.donnai{at}

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Many formal tributes have been made in print enumerating Bob Gorlin’s major contributions to medicine and dentistry, listing his academic appointments, his many honours and his extensive list of publications. However, what cannot be enumerated are the thousands and thousands of patients’ lives he benefited either in his own practice or by giving his opinion to other physicians. Also too numerous to list are the thousands of doctors whose skills have been enhanced by knowing or listening to Bob.

In this tribute, I will try to capture how Bob enriched and influenced my life and the lives of many of my colleagues in Europe. I am aware, however, that I am only taking about one of his “constituencies”, the clinical geneticists, and that he had others; dentistry, oral pathology, craniofacial development and dermatology.

The first time I became “Gorlin aware” was around 1980, when I made my first diagnosis of Gorlin’s syndrome. That child was to be one of a large cohort of patients we cared for and still study in Manchester. I believe it was, in great part, the scholarly and engaging literature by Bob that captured the interest of my then fellow, Peter Farndon, who in time contributed to the international efforts to map and clone the gene. We have never called …

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • This piece is based on the tribute I gave at the Academic Memorial Meeting for Robert J. Gorlin held at the University of Minnesota, 16 December 2006.

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