BSc Manch 1955, MSc 1956, MB ChB 1959; FRCP Lond 1989.
Fentem was educated at Bury Grammar School and the University of Manchester. He held junior positions at MRI and was demonstrator at the University of Manchester. In 1964 Fentem was appointed lecturer in physiology at St Mary's Hospital, London. He was appointed senior lecturer in physiology at Nottingham in 1968, being promoted to professor in 1976.