Maryfield Hospital - equipment, etc

MARYFIELD HOSPITAL - Associated Laboratories and Research Interests.

Paddy Mathers (later McFarlane) specialised in ultra-micro analysis for paediatric work in the 1960s. She set up a laboratory in the Special Baby Care Unit at the Royal Infirmary ca. 1962. This was run by two members of staff from Maryfield Hospital and a technician on rotation from the Royal Infirmary until all the laboratories were united under Griffiths in 1966. At the time, Professor A Lendrum, Professor of Pathology, remarked that it was like setting up a department of Woolworth's in Marks & Spencer. (ref: 37)

An attempt was made for a short period between 1962 and 1964 to oversee the clinical chemistry service at Stracathro Hospital by providing a biochemist who travelled each day from Maryfield using a mini van. The intention was that the more complex assays would be brought back to the Maryfield laboratory, which would thereby attain some status as a reference laboratory for the outlying hospitals of the Eastern Region. Unfortunately this arrangement was not very satisfactory and, in addition, the biochemist concerned (Buik) was not as good a driver as he was a biochemist. After two recoveries of the van from a ditch, the plan was abandoned. (ref: 37,86)

A small laboratory was set up in Arbroath Infirmary to handle emergency assays; the rest of the service being covered by taking specimens by taxi to the department at Maryfield Hospital.

In 1962 Dr Strauss, Physician in Charge at the Arbroath Infirmary, carried out a survey of diabetes. The 16,000 inhabitants over the age of 5 years were to leave an early morning specimen of urine in a container provided (an empty jam pot obtained from British Railways) on the doorstep on a Sunday morning, to be collected by the local Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, etc..

Unfortunately the worst gale for years blew most of the pots to the end of each road. However, the voluntary organisations did an excellent job of retrieval and the survey was a success resulting in several publications. (ref: 37)

The department's collaboration with the Clinical Investigation Unit entailed much research activity so a small request was submitted to the Board of Management for several necessary books. This was refused: the explanation being that research was supposed to be looking into the future, not delving into the past! Several grants were received from the M.R.C. and S.H.E.R.T., mostly for the development of techniques to identify and measure individual steroids in urine from infants. This involved an enormous amount of paper chromatography. There was also a bioassay (mouse) for urinary gonadotrophin - the mice were kept under the bench in the main laboratory and, as a result, the department was noted for its peculiar odour. This work showed for the first time the unique spectrum of steroids excreted by infants.

Kathleen Birchall (1958 - 64) obtained her PhD during this study. She took up an appointment in the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, Massachusetts (1965 - 72) and was a Fellow in Endocrinology and in charge of a research unit in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies at Liverpool University (1972 - 75) prior to taking up an appointment in the Biology Department of Napier College, Edinburgh. (ref: 106)

DM Cathro obtained his MD during the above study. Following appointments in Lyon, France, Washington, DC and Nebraska, he took up an appointment in Iowa, where he is a practising clinician in adolescent and paediatric endocrinology. (ref: 37,64,106)

An application was made to the M.R.C. for a grant for 21,000 (large for those days) to continue the work. Sir Harold Himsworth came to investigate and recommended that Maryfield Hospital was not the ideal situation for this work to be continued on the scale envisaged. FL Mitchell left in 1964 to take up a post of Senior Lecturer at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where the grant was applied, and later extended, leading to the discovery of over 40 new steroids. (ref: 37)

John Robson (1964 - 66), Lecturer at Dundee Royal Infirmary was appointed as Principal Biochemist (under George Smith, General Pathologist) and succeeded Mitchell as Head of Department. He retained his appointment as Lecturer at the Royal Infirmary and, thus, when H Gemmell Morgan moved to Glasgow in 1965, was the first joint head of the two Dundee Biochemistry Departments.

Robson was appointed as Consultant in Stirling (1966 - 71), in Glasgow Western Infirmary and Gartnavel General Hospital (1970 - 75) and Glasgow Royal Infirmary (1975 - 79) and then moved to Perth, Australia in 1979. (ref: 59)

Maryfield Hospital - Combined Department

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