Harold Sheehan

Harold Leeming Sheehan (1900-1988) 300

Harold Leeming Sheehan (1900-1988) was an English physician and pathologist

Sheehan initiated much experimental work designed to elucidate the pathogenesis of both pituitary necrosis and renal cortical necrosis

Eponymously remembered for his description of Sheehan Syndrome in 1937

  • Born on August 4, 1900 in Carlisle
  • Educated at Carlisle Grammar School
  • 1921 – MB ChB, University of Manchester
  • 1921-1927 General practice with older brother in the practice of their father Dr Patrick Sheehan
  • 1927 – Demonstrator, and later a lecturer, in the department of pathology in the University of Manchester. Working with John Shaw Dunn, whose chief interest was in renal disease, with whom he undertook experimental work on renal function
  • 1931 – MD, thesis on the deposition of dyes in the mammalian kidney
  • 1932 – MSc, thesis on the renal elimination of injected urea and creatinine
  • 1934 – Rockefeller medical fellowship to continue his studies on renal function; department of pharmacology, Johns Hopkins medical school in Baltimore
  • 1935-1941 Director of research at the Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital, quickly becoming an international expert on the pathology of pregnancy.
  • Over the course of six short years, Sheehan: analysed the effects of obstetrical shock; differentiated fatty liver of delayed chloroform poisoning and primary fatty liver of pregnancy; demonstrated reactivation of latent rheumatic heart disease induced by pregnancy; clarified the effects of eclampsia upon the liver and kidneys; identified the encephalopathy of hyperemesis gravidarum as Wernicke’s disease; recognized the association between concealed accidental haemorrhage and renal cortical necrosis and recognized that obstetrical shock and haemorrhage could induce necrosis of the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland…
  • 1941-1946 Deputy director of pathology to the allied forces in Italy, with the rank of colonel
  • 1965 – Retired from chair of pathology;
  • Died on October 25, 1988

Medical Eponyms
Sheehan syndrome (1937)

Key Medical Contributions

Major Publications




Eponymous terms


the person behind the name

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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