Priscilla Kincaid-Smith

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Priscilla Sheath Kincaid-Smith, Mrs. Fairley, AC, CBE (30 November 1926 – 18 July 2015), was an Australia-based South African physician and researcher, specializing in nephrology. She was a past President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (1986-1988; first woman Councillor in 1976), World Medical Association and International Society of Nephrology (1972-75).


Kincaid-Smith was born in Johannesburg in 1926[1] and studied medical science at the University of the Witwatersrand in there. She earned her BSc (Hons) in 1946 and her BMBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) in 1950. She was awarded a DSc by the University of the Witwatersrand in 1979. From 1951–53, she worked at Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg, holding resident positions in Medicine and Surgery and Registrar in Medicine.[2] She died on 18 July 2015 at the age of 88.[1]



In the early 1960s Kincaid-Smith demonstrated evidence of the links between headache powders containing phenacetin (sold as Bex and Vincent's APC in Australia) and kidney cancer,[3] and campaigned strongly against the use of such powders. She also contributed to research on links between high blood pressure and renal malfunction.[4]



Kincaid-Smith was President of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (1986–88), as well as past president of the World Medical Association, and International Society of Nephrology. She was a Member of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.


Dr Kincaid-Smith married Dr Ken Fairley, also a medical doctor, in London in 1958.[2] They had three children, the twin boys Stephen and Christopher, who became a gastroenterologist and an infectious disease epidemiologist. Their later born daughter Jascenth studied veterinary medicine and moved to the USA where she worked as a manager in the pharmaceutical industry. Their offspring produced eight grandchildren.

Ken Fairley, was in London training in cardiology. Ken's father and all his father's four brothers were doctors. One of his uncles was Sir Neil Hamilton Fairley, famous in the field of malaria. The family was Australian-based, but Neil became professor at the Tropical School in London. His two sons also became doctors, of whom Gordon was killed by an Irish bomb in 1975.

Ken and Priscilla met in May 1958, got engaged in June and married in July. They moved to Australia at the end of the year when both were aged 31. He had spent four years in London, training with Paul Wood at the National Heart Hospital, and was just about to return to Australia when they met.


Dr Kincaid-Smith died on 18 July 2015, aged 88, surrounded by family at her home in Melbourne, Australia from complications following a stroke.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Death Notice: KINCAID-SMITH (Fairley) Professor Priscilla AC, CBE". Fairfax Media. 21 July 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b Profile,; accessed 21 July 2015. Archived March 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Sue Dunlevy, "Cancer Council NSW: Bex powder killed more than pain", News Corporation: Sydney; accessed 30 August 2014.
  4. ^ Profile,; accessed 21 July 2015.
  5. ^ Buzacott-Speer, Eliza. "Obituary: Taboo-breaking doctor Priscilla Kincaid-Smith remembered as trailblazer for women". ABC News. ABC Australia. Retrieved 8 October 2015.

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