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The Scotland and Northern Ireland Region of the A.C.B.

The First Few Years

The Glasgow Area Hospital Biochemists' Club was the first such group to be formed in the UK.

The inaugural meeting of the Association of Clinical Biochemists was held on 28th March 1953 at the Postgraduate Medical School of London.

At the last meeting of the Biochemists' Club, held at Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow on Wednesday 27th May 1953, the motion to dissolve the Club was accepted and followed immediately by the Inaugural Meeting of the Scotland and Northern Ireland Region of the ACB.

The following members of the Regional Committee were elected:-

Chairman - Dr CP Stewart, Edinburgh

General Secretary - Dr I Anderson, Glasgow

Meetings Secretary - Mr A Kenny, Glasgow

Committee Members - Dr M Jowett, Glasgow and Dr A Mollison, Glasgow

Member of Council for the Region was Dr JC Eaton, Glasgow

National Member of Council - Dr CP Stewart, Edinburgh.

The second meeting of the Region was held on Wednesday 10th June 1953 when it held a Summer Outing to the Marine Biological Station, Millport, Isle of Cumbrae. This was attended by 9 members who met at the Glasgow Victoria Infirmary and shared cars transport to Largs where they took a private launch to Cumbrae. After the meeting, there was dinner in the Royal George Hotel, Millport.

On Wednesday 25th November 1953 an ordinary meeting of the Region was held in the Urology Department, Glasgow Royal Infirmary and it was attended by 20 members. The following papers were presented:-

1. "Reduction of Dehydroascorbic Acid in the Red Blood Cell", Dr CP Stewart (Edinburgh)

2. "Detection and Significance of Bile Pigments in Urine", Dr AG Baikie (Glasgow

3. "Separation of Cerebrospinal Fluid Proteins by Paper Chromatography", Miss MD Gardner (Glasgow)

Wednesday 10th March, 1954 an ordinary meeting of the Region was held in the Department of Child Health, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow and was attended by 20 members. "For the convenience of members attending the meeting, reservations were made for lunch to be served at 1pm at the Y.M.C.A. restaurant, Bothwell Street, Glasgow."

The following papers were presented:-

1. "impressions from the Scientific Institutes in the United States", Dr Regina Schoental (Glasgow)

2. "Semi-quantitative Analysis of Urinary Calculi", Mr A Jamieson (Glasgow)

3. "Biochemical Control in the treatment of Potassium Depletion", Dr JW Chambers

The AGM of the Scotland and Northern Ireland Region was held on Saturday 10th April 1954 at 4.30pm in the West Medical Theatre in Edinburgh during a National ACB Meeting.

The following members were elected to the Regional Committee:-

Chairman - Dr CP Stewart, Edinburgh

Secretary/Treasurer - Dr I Anderson, Glasgow

Meetings Secretary - Mr A Kenny, Glasgow

Committee Members - Dr L Tompsett, Edinburgh and Miss M Gardner, Glasgow.

Member of Council for the Region was Dr JC Eaton, Glasgow

National Member of Council - Dr CP Stewart, Edinburgh.

The Report of the Scotland and Northern Ireland Regional Committee for 1953 - 54, indicated that there were 40 members in the Region - Glasgow area 27, Edinburgh area 7, Dundee 2, Inverness 2, Belfast 2.

The Region held a Summer Outing to the Institute of Seaweed Research, Inveresk, by Musselburgh on Friday 18th June 1954. High Tea was held at the Royal Hotel, Musselburgh.

A special meeting was held in the Lister Theatre, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow on Wednesday 6th October 1954, at which the guest speaker was Dr Max M Friedman, National Secretary, American Association of Clinical Chemists - his subject was "The Development of Clinical Chemistry in the United States as seen from the vantage point of a Secretary". At dinner in honour of Dr Freidman followed this meeting and was attended by 18 members.

A special meeting was held in the Lister Theatre, Royal Infirmary, Glasgow on Thursday 7th October 1954at which the guest speaker was Dr Adolph Bernhard, Clinical Biochemist of the Lennox Hill Hospital, New York - his subject was "Forty Years of Clinical Biochemistry at the Lennox Hill Hospital of New York City".

Some National Meetings held in Scotland


Prior to the 1980s, the ACB National Meetings were usually a day and a half long and organised by a local planning committee under the guidance of the National Meetings Secretary. The last of these to be held in Scotland was CANCER: Current Concepts and was held in Glasgow in 1981 in the Mitchell Library and there was an exhibition with 16 exhibitors in the adjoining Moir Hall.

Under the guidance of Colin Toothill, Meetings Secretary 1979 to 1983, a new series of National Meetings was established. It was envisaged that each would be in a major centre, last 4 or 5 days and would have a different name to match the theme. The first of these was held in Buxton in 1984 and was called IMPACT. The second was held in Cardiff in 1985 and was called STRATEGY 85

In 1986, the first of this new series to be held in Scotland, was called FOCUS 86. Later the name FOCUS became permanent. During the early stages of planning, it was thought that the lectures, meals and exhibition could all be accommodated in the Hospitality Inn in Glasgow. It soon became obvious that the new series of meetings was being such a success that more accommodation would be required. Arrangements were made for the lectures to be held in the nearby Theatre Royal. Then the under ground car park underwent a transformation with temporary walls, blue carpeting, and lots of white paint etc. to provide space for an exhibition of 61 stands. When FOCUS returned to Scotland in 1991, 1995, 1998 and 2002, the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow became the main venue. A (then) new concept of case based discussion groups was introduced at FOCUS 86 and later this metamorphosed into the Training Day which was held prior to the start of the main meeting for junior members who were working towards professional examinations.


Mike Stewart and Ian D Watson organised the first ACB Toxicology Workshop Course in Dundee in 1975. This was a very successful course of lectures and practical exercises. When repeated, in 1982 and 1985, the courses were held in Glasgow (Mike Stewart and Ian D Watson were at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in the 1980s). "Joint Toxicology Workshop - 1982" was organised in partnership with the Royal College of Pathologists. "Clinical Drug Analysis - 1985" was an ACB organised course. (Elliott Simpson was treasurer for the latter two courses.)


When Elliott Simpson was secretary/treasurer of the Scottish Region of the ACB (1979 to 1982) he arranged the regional scientific meetings and encouraged liaison between the ACB and other professional groups. This resulted in the first joint meetings of the Scottish Region with the Royal Society of Chemistry ("Advances in Automated Methods of Analysis", Glasgow, 1980), with the Hospital Physicists Association ("Laboratory Support in Malignant Disease", Glasgow, 1981), with the Association of Clinical Cytogeneticists (Stirling, 1981) and with the Medical Microbiology Scientific Group (Edinburgh, 1981).


The ACB held a National Training Course with Management as its theme in Birmingham in 1973. At that time, there was a widely held view that "management" was just common sense and only senior staff need concern themselves about such things. In Scotland, a series of one week Management Courses for Biochemists, Physicists, etc. were held at the Scottish Health Service Centre, Edinburgh during the 1980s. These were largely arranged "in-house" but in 1989 an external company (McDermott Manpower Training & Development Service) was involved. Elliott Simpson, who was a delegate on this course, recalls that it was a week of culture shock for both the NHS participants and the non-NHS facilitator.

Towards the end of the 1980s, Frances J Dryburgh, who was Chairman of the ACB National Education Committee from 1991 to 1993, became the first Regional Tutor for Scotland. At that time there were over 70 "junior members" in the Scottish Region. Although most were Senior Biochemists, there were 25 Basic Grade Biochemists. She was convinced that there was a need for locally organised Management Courses for these members of the profession. The first of these was a two day, non-residential weekend held in Glasgow in 1988. Although the course was run on a shoe-string budget, she did manage to persuade the newly appointed Chief Executive of the Greater Glasgow Health Board to speak to the meeting. One of the exercises involved the trainees setting up four different interview panels. They interviewed Frances Dryburgh, Ian Leggate, Elliott Simpson and Mike Stewart (who had been helping with the rest of the programme) for a Senior Grade Biochemist post. Each of the candidates had submitted a fictitious CV for the purpose of the exercise. Many lessons were learned by interviewers and interviewees alike!

This led to a series of courses run with the Management Development Group in Edinburgh. They were held in Edinburgh (1990 to 1994) and Glasgow (1995) and were facilitated by Andy Goodhead (of Future Vision). These were attended by biochemists and Senior Registrars from all over the UK. Experience with these courses was taken into the programme for FOCUS 93 held in Birmingham, and laid the basis for the management sessions which ran along with the training day at later FOCUS meetings.

Frances Dryburgh, Elliott Simpson and Andy Goodhead run two weekend Management Master Classes for Top Grade Biochemists and Consultants in York in 1995 and 1996. Elliott had been invited to write a "game plan" for the practical exercises based on his experience of compiling the book "People who made Scottish Clinical Biochemistry". In the event, the scenario under discussion was three hospitals called St Andrews, St Bedeveres and St Crispins and the work load, staffing and finance data was adapted from the three District General Hospitals in Lanarkshire (where Elliott worked) - the map was rotated through 90 degrees to prevent the area being recognised. Elliott found the conclusions reached by the various consultants and Top Grade Biochemists attending to be very helpful when dealing with his local administration!

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