Cardiology pioneer and advocate for consultants

Brian Maurer: June 5th, 1941-October 13th, 2013


Brian Maurer, who died late last year at the age of 72, was one of Ireland’s most prominent physicians and a pioneer of cardiology.

A founder member of the Irish Hospital Consultants’ Association, he was at different times president and medical director of the Irish Heart Foundation, president of the Irish Cardiac Society and lead author or contributor to more than 60 academic papers from 1966 until 2003.

He was involved with several organisations concerned with illnesses related to heart disease, including the Sudden Adult Death Syndrome taskforce, on which he served as chairman, and Action on Smoking and Health.

His contribution to cardiology was widely recognised internationally. A fellow of both the American College of Cardiology and the European Society of Cardiology, he was also a founder member of the British Cardiovascular Intervention Society.

Prolific networker
A prolific networker, Dr Maurer was also president of the medicine section of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, a member of the council of the Irish Medical Association from 1964 until 1984, and of the association’s executive committee from 1975 until 1982.

It was as a promoter of the interests of his fellow consultants that Dr Maurer left one of his most enduring legacies. He took a leading role in the negotiations that established the consultants’ contract.

His friend and colleague Prof Muiris FitzGerald said Dr Maurer, who worked in Britain’s National Health Service from 1967 until 1972, was “somewhat unsympathetic” to that system, and that he was “very keen on the doctor-patient relationship . . . and would have seen the state as potentially interfering with that.”

Another colleague, Prof Eoin O’Brien, remarked that as a result of the “fracturing” of the medical profession between consultants and others “we [the consultants] are excessively privileged, and we have abused that privilege”.

Both men stressed Dr Maurer’s never-wavering concern for his patients.

“His patients loved him, and could phone him, and did, at any hour,” Dr O’Brien recalled, adding: “We have lost that.”

Brian Joseph Maurer was born in Ennis, Co Clare, in 1941, the son of Bernard Maurer, an optician whose watchmaking father had immigrated from southern Germany in the 1880s, and Eileen Kennedy, an ophthalmologist. Educated at St Flannan’s College in Ennis, he won an exhibition in classical languages to UCD in 1958. He opted to study medicine.

After two years as a Medical Research Council of Ireland fellow at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin he undertook postgraduate work at Hammersmith Hospital in London, developing an interest in cardiology.

Subsequently he was to work with two renowned American cardiologists, John Kirklin and Joseph Reeves, on a fellowship at the University of Alabama.

He returned to Ireland in 1974 to a post as a consultant at the Federated Hospitals and St Vincent’s Hospital. Prof O’Brien remarked that cardiology was “very rudimentary” in Ireland in the 1970s, with only five or six specialists in the field and that Dr Maurer “was very essential to making people realise that we had to embrace change taking place internationally [in medicine].”

‘Inexhaustible energy’
Muiris FitzGerald, in an appreciation for a medical journal, wrote that “it was the sheer power of Brian’s commitment, [his] inexhaustible energy, political astuteness and enthusiasm” that resulted in “better cath labs and new clinics established, coronary care protocols put in place and more sophisticated monitoring and expanded cardiac surgery” being established in Ireland. Prof Robert Califf of Duke University said he was “an icon of Irish cardiology”.

Known as a bon viveur, Dr Maurer hosted the William Harvey Society, a dining club for visiting foreign cardiologists, at Lahinch Golf Club in Co Clare (where he served both as captain and president).

On one of his last outings to a regular haunt, Matt the Thresher’s restaurant in Dublin, he was greeted, in the company of his old friend Des O’Malley, by Michelle Obama, visiting for a private dinner with her daughters during President Obama’s visit to the G8 summit in Co Fermanagh last year.

Brian Maurer married Kathleen Flynn, always known as Timmie, a language teacher, in 1966. She survives him, with their three children, Katharine, Desmond and Clare, and a brother and sister, Denis and Maeve.