EDINBURGH

RIE Methods in the 1950s

The 1960s to present day

In 1959 Jean Forshall worked in the department where she completed the practical work for an MSc, graduating in 1966. She worked mainly on the assay of Protein Bound Iodine and in the artificial kidney and renal transplant unit (where there was a Biochemist called John Cowie). (ref: 91, 98)

Protein Bound Iodine was assayed as a measure of thyroid hormones status. Prior to the method being mechanised by Technicon, it was a very troublesome assay. The chloric acid used in the digestion of the protein was prepared by treating potassium chlorate with perchloric acid and each batch of ceric sulphate and arsenious acid had to be tested for trace contamination. (ref: 10)

Jean Forshall was appointed as a Basic Grade Biochemist at Cameron Hospital in Fife in 1965 and as Senior Biochemist in Bangour Hospital in 1967. (Jean's father, William Forshall had started his career in the department as a "lab-boy" in the department in 1926, worked in the Edinburgh Northern Group of Hospitals from 1952 to 1962 and returned to the department until his retiral in 1969. (ref: 91, 98)

Dr PC Jocelyn, from the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, was secretary of the Scottish Region of the ACB in 1959 and he and Miss P Burton gave papers at ACB Regional Meetings in 1960 and 1959 respectively.

In 1960 the International Congress of Clinical Chemistry was held in Edinburgh and was organised by, among others, Sam Frazer.

Ronald GS Leask was appointed as Lecturer from 1961 to 1967. Shortly after joining the department, he was seconded to the Simpson Memorial Pavilion and Fred Scandrett, who had been there, returned to the main department. Leask attempted to set up Jim Brown's oestrogen method for monitoring fertility treatment. He found that, because the laboratory was on the top floor of the building, it had variable water pressure which had an unpleasant effect on reflux condensers - the method required freshly distilled ether and benzene. He was relieved to be asked to set up a Kober fluorimetric method. Although this method enjoyed a vogue elsewhere both in a manual and automated form, for urinary pregnancy oestrogens, Leask had no real success with it for this purpose. (ref: 146)

In 1962 John A Owen, who had been in Melbourne since leaving the department in 1957, was appointed and, a few months later, he was Acting Head of Department when CP Stewart retired.

CP Stewart retired in 1962 and was elected an Honorary Member of the A.C.B. in 1963. He died in 1972. A memorial fund was established in 1973 by David B Horn, who had been the A.C.B. Honorary Treasurer, Sam Frazer and Robert Gaddie (and administered by the Council of the A.C.B.) to assist younger members of the A.C.B. to visit laboratories for special training. (ref: 30, 77)

CP Stewart was an able and popular lecturer and a leading clinical biochemist with an international reputation. He created a teaching department and a service laboratory of note, with little help from the clinicians other than Derrick Dunlop, Professor of Therapeutics and Clinical Medicine, with whom he worked in close collaboration and with mutual respect. Stewart and Dunlop wrote the text book "Clinical Chemistry in Practical Medicine" which ran to six editions. (This gives a very fair presentation of the application of laboratory work in clinical practice at the time and it was the local "bible" for medical students and housemen). He co-edited the first thirteen volumes of "Advances in Clinical Chemistry from 1958 to 1964 (volumes 1 to 9 with H Sobotka and 10 to 13 with O Bodansky) and "Toxicology: Mechanisms and Analytical Methods" (volume 1 & 2 (1960 and 1961) with A Stolman) published by Academic Press (London).

John A Owen returned to Melbourne in 1964 where he was appointed to the Alfred Hospital attached to Monash University. He was appointed to the Chair of Chemical Pathology at St George's Hospital, London, 1970 and retired in 1986. (ref: 39)

A Chair of Clinical Chemistry was established in 1962 and, the following year, L. Gordon Whitby was appointed to this newly created Chair.

L Gordon Whitby had graduated at Cambridge University (1st Class Honours, Biochemistry, 1948, PhD, 1951 and Medicine, 1956) and had held appointments in the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, London (1958 to 1960) and Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge (1960 to 1963). A year after joining the chemical pathology department at the Hammersmith, he was awarded a Rockefeller travelling scholarship (1959) and, as a Research Fellow, he spent a year in the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.A. He studied adrenal hormone metabolism in the laboratory of Dr J Axelrod and was awarded his MD from Cambridge in 1961 on the basis of this work.

Whitby was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1968. He was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1969 to 1972 and from 1983 to 1986 and Vice President of the University of Edinburgh from 1979 to 1983. He retired in 1991 and was elected an Emeritus Member of the A.C.B. in 1992. He died in 2000. (ref: 30, 54, 84, 101, 171)

In 1963 Frank Albert-Recht, who had been a refugee from Europe and who had published a paper on quantitative scanning of cellulose acetate protein electrophoresis strips, left to take up a new appointment of Senior Lecturer in Aberdeen University where he retired in 1988. (ref: 32, 80, 146)

Fred L Mitchell, from Dundee, succeeded Owen as Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of Department in 1964 and later was appointed as Reader. The research which he had undertaken in Dundee into the identification and measurement of steroids in urine from infants was extended. With the help of a 21 000 grant from the Medical Research Council, this led to the discovery of over 40 new steroids. Mitchell was invited by the M.R.C. to form the Division of Clinical Chemistry at the Clinical Research Centre (CRC) and Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow. To allow him to build up this Division while the department in Harrow was being completed, Mitchell moved for a year into an office and laboratory in the Clinical Endocrinology Research Unit in Forrest Road, Edinburgh in 1968. He then moved to the CRC in 1969 where he remained until his retiral in 1983. (ref: 37, 80)

Cedric HL Shackleton, who had obtained his PhD on further developments with the steroid work in Edinburgh, was appointed to the CRC to work with Mitchell. There Shackleton developed steroid gas chromatography with mass spectrometry prior to being appointed to a post in the M.R.C. Division of Clinical Chemistry at the Clinical Research Centre, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow in the late 1970s. He moved to California, USA, ca 1980. (ref: 37, 80)

Donald Moss, from the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, London, was appointed to a newly established post of Senior Lecturer in 1965. His research was supported by the MRC and SHERT and led to the publication of eighteen papers, mainly in the Biochemical Journal and Nature, during four years. R Helen Eaton (who was appointed as Top Grade Biochemist at Glasgow Victoria Infirmary in 1980) was his PhD student and he was assisted by James K Smith, who had recently completed his PhD in the department under Regina Kapeller-Adler. They showed that, contrary to the then received opinion, alkaline phosphatase can act on pyrophosphate and polyphosphate substrates. In 1969, Moss returned to the Royal Postgraduate Medical School where he was later (ca. 1978) appointed as Professor. He was Chair of the ACB from 1988 to 1990 and President from 1994 to 1996. He died in 2015. (ref: 38, 80)

Alastair F Smith, who had trained in the London Hospital and Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, was appointed as Lecturer in 1965 and as Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in 1971. He was the Area Clinical Director for Lothian for Clinical Chemistry from 1991 to 1993 and head of Diagnostic Medicine Service and Clinical Director of Clinical Biochemistry at the Royal Infirmary from 1993 until his retiral in 2001. (ref 155)

In 1966 J Douglas Crombie, who had been providing services for the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, in a small laboratory in the department at the Royal Infirmary, was promoted to Medical Assistant and moved to the R.H.S.C.

L Barry Roberts succeeded Crombie in 1966. Roberts later was appointed as Top Grade Biochemist in Hull prior to being appointed as Top Grade Biochemist at Glasgow Western Infirmary in 1975. He retired in 1994.

In 1967 Ronald GS Leask was appointed as Senior Registrar at Stobhill General Hospital, Glasgow and was succeeded by RJ Georges. Georges was the first non-medically qualified candidate to gain the M.R.C.Path. by examination.

Baggat F Allam, who had trained under CP Stewart was appointed to a post in Stoke on Trent in 1968. He was appointed as Senior Registrar at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1970 and as Consultant at Stobhill General Hospital, Glasgow, in 1975. (ref: 80)

John Seth was appointed as lecturer in Clinical Chemistry at Edinburgh University in 1969.

Seth graduated from the University of Manchester, Institute of Science and Technology and MSc in Analytical Chemistry from Bristol University. His interest in endocrinology began to develop whilst working for a PhD at Sheffield University studying the feto-placental metabolism of steroids. (ref: 164)

In his new post, Seth's analytical skills were initially put to use in developing competitive protein binding assays for thyroid hormones. Subsequently he developed 'in-house' radioimmunoassays for T4 and T3, the first immunoassays to be introduced into routine use in Edinburgh. (ref: 164)

In 1973 Seth, in collaboration with Prof A Toft, participated in a number of milestone studies concerning the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease. In 1984, he published the first study to show that basal TSH (measured by a sensitive assay) could predict the TSH response to TRH. This publication laid the foundation for further innovative clinical studies by the Edinburgh group that culminated in the proposal that the basal TSH measurement could provide a cost effective first line test to diagnose and monitor thyroid dysfunction. (ref: 164)

In 1979 Seth was appointed Director (Top Grade Biochemist) of the Regional Hormone Laboratory in Edinburgh. During this time he developed a strong interest in assessing assay quality through the use of External Quality Assessment schemes, an interest he retained throughout his subsequent career. From the mid-1980's he has directed and developed the peptide hormone and tumour markers EQA services based in Edinburgh, supported by his firm belief that EQA should be scientifically based. Seth championed the need for appropriate assay calibration in collaboration with NIBSC, BIVDA and individual diagnostics manufacturers. He was an active and founder member of the EQAS Participants meetings, and co-ordinated a joint meeting with the European Ligand Society in 1998. Internationally, Seth worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency and WHO, and was an active contributor to European Societies and meetings in endocrinology. By the time he retired in 2002, he had published more than 90 papers in peer-reviewed journals. In addition he was co-author of an endocrinology textbook and wrote numerous book chapters and reviews on a wide range of topics relating to endocrinology and external quality assessment. He was regularly invited to give lectures at national and international meetings. (ref: 164)

In 1999 Seth became Deputy Clinical Lead in the Department of Clinical Biochemistry at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and subsequent Clinical Lead in 2000. He retired at the end of March 2002 after spending more than thirty years in the Edinburgh Department. (ref: 164)

Peter CP Wong studied for PhD under AF Smith from 1972 to 1976.

Geoffrey J Beckett, postgraduate research fellow (1975-76) with Professor GS Boyd in the department of Biochemistry, was appointed as Basic Grade Biochemist in 1976, Lecturer in 1979 and Senior Lecturer in 1984. By 1996 he had published 136 papers, 21 reviews, 20 abstracts & letters and 4 books or chapters in books. He became an Honorary Member of the ACB when he retired in 2014 (ref 155)

In 1984, Ian W Percy-Robb, Senior Lecturer, who had been a member of the department since 1968, was appointed to a personal Chair of Pathological Biochemistry in Glasgow University and as Honorary Consultant to Glasgow Western Infirmary and retired in 2000.

Laila Tibi studied for PhD under AF Smith from 1985 to 1990. She was appointed as Senior Biochemist in 1992 at St Albans City Hospital. The lab at St Albans moved to Hemel Hempstead in 1996 and in 2001 she was appointed as Principal Biochemist at Hemel Hempstead. The hospital at Hemel Hempstead later came together with Watford General Hospital to become West Hertfordshire Hospitals.

G Heather Clark, who had been appointed as Senior Biochemist from Dundee, was appointed to the Royal London Hospital in 1997. Sadie M Gow, Senior Biochemist in the Endocrinology Section, left in 1997 when her husband took up an appointment in Ayr. John Hayes, from the Edinburgh Western General, was appointed in 1981. Jackie Herdman, Grade A Trainee from Glasgow Royal Infirmary (1994 to 1997) and Senior Biochemist at Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride (1997 to 1998) was appointed as Senior Biochemist in 1998. She was appointed (as Mrs. McGuire) as Principal Biochemist at Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride, in 2001. Ray Heyworth, who had been Principal Biochemist at Edinburgh Western General, transferred to the Royal in 1978. He died in 2016. Cathy M Sturgeon and VM Sweeting joined the RIA laboratory in the early 1980s. Helen Verrill, who trained in Leeds General and St James Infirmary (1993 to 98) was appointed as a Senior Biochemist in 1998 and as Principal Biochemist at Hartlepool in 2000. (ref: 80)

Cathy M Sturgeon was initially appointed as a Research Fellow in the Immunoassay Section of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and developed a special interest in tumour markers. She was a founder member of the European Group on Tumour Markers, which was one of the earliest groups to consider quality issues of these assays, and Director of the UK National External Quality Assessment Service (UK NEQAS) unit at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. She was awarded Medal of Excellence for Scientific Cooperation by the Medical Faculty of the Charles University in Prague and presented with the Morton K Schwartz Award for Significant Contributions in Cancer Research Diagnostics for a scientist who has achieved national and international status for groundbreaking work in clinical diagnostic research in cancer and who is considered to be among the world's foremost experts in that specific arena, by the American Association of Clinical Chemistry in 2009. She was one of the Science Council's "Top 100 Scientists" in the "Monitor-Regulator" group in 2014.

Ian Hanning, who had been a Basic Grade Biochemist (1980 to 86) in the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, was appointed as Senior Biochemist (1986 to 89) (UK NEQAS) prior to working with Serono Diagnostics in Woking (1989 to 91). He was appointed as Principal Biochemist responsible for the endocrine service in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee in 1991, as Top Grade Biochemist in Aberystwyth in 1998 and as Top Grade in Hull Royal Infirmary in 2001. (ref: 155)

James Ian Mason was appointed to the Chair in 1994. Mason was an Edinburgh graduate (BSc 1966 & PhD 1970). Apart from a period as a Research Fellow in the Biochemistry Department, Edinburgh (1973 to 1977), his career had been pursued in the United States, mostly the South-western Medical School Dallas. (ACB News Sheet, 382, Feb 1995)

Kay S Walker, Grade A trainee, won the John King Award in 2001 for a paper entitled "A case of self diagnosis".

Lee Campbell was appointed as a Grade A Trainee in 2002 and as Senior Biochemist in Edinburgh Royal Hospital for Sick Children in 2005.

Patrick Twomey was appointed as consultant in Ipswich in 2003.

Dr Michael Crane was appointed as a Grade A Trainee on 2005.

RIE - Toxicology Laboratory

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Last updated January 2017