Glasgow - Royal Infirmary - 1920s to mid 1960s

Photos from Gemmell Morgan's Retiral Meeting

The John King Award

GLASGOW ROYAL INFIRMARY mid-1960s to present

In August 1966 H Gemmell Morgan, who had been appointed as Professor of Pathological Biochemistry in 1965, moved from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow, to the Royal Infirmary. (He remained head of RHSC until 1967.) He found that, paradoxically, he was helped by his 11,500 square foot (approx. 1,150 square metres) department being sited in a temporary wooden building on waste ground on the wrong side of Castle Street. Fortunately it lay in the path selected for a new motorway! There was little equipment and the staff comprised one registrar (Frances Neilson, later Dryburgh), Mary Gardner and six other scientists, Campbell Scotland (Chief Technician II) and twenty technicians and two typists. Barbara Morrison was a senior biochemist around this time. She joined the ACB in 1968 and, according to the ACB records, retired in 1992 when she moved to Lewis where she was later ordained as a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church. She died in 2017.

Morgan's aspirations were to "build up resources to establish an undergraduate teaching course, to establish postgraduate recruitment and training and to create an ambiance in which curiosity (research) would flourish and be encouraged, in particular with clinical applications". Within the first few days, Morgan had arranged interviews with the most senior staff. Campbell Scotland recorded that Morgan's words to him were "if you want to stay here, all I can promise you is blood, sweat, tears and hard work". Frances Dryburgh recalled his saying "What we want is four Registrars, four Senior Registrars and another two Consultants". As the sole Registrar, she gave a wry smile which was immediately countered by "Don't laugh" and "Why not?". A week after starting full-time in the Royal Infirmary, Morgan lodged his request for a new building based on functional reasoning for a Regional Reference Section. (ref: 107)

Morgan visited Scandinavia in 1966 and 1968 and the USA in 1970. By 1972 the concept planning was essentially complete. In parallel, with the help of Professor Arthur Mackey (Surgery) and Professor Edward McGirr (Medicine and Dr (later Professor) Arthur Kennedy, Morgan made a case for University space in the Queen Elizabeth Building and for a substantial teaching course. Approx. 1,000 square metres of space was obtained on the fourth floor of phase one for this purpose ca. 1981. The new Biochemistry Department was approx. 3,000 square metres, took three and a half years to build, was handed over in December 1976 and was officially opened by the Rt Hon Bruce Millan, MP, Secretary of State for Scotland on 19th October 1977. (ref: 107, 148) (On that day, a van bringing specimens to the department from Monklands Hospital, in Lanarkshire, was turned away from the door by the security people who were preparing for the official opening. Among the specimens which were lost without trace, was the pre-treatment TSH specimen for an infant with the presumed diagnosis of congenital hypothyroidism. The child had to be maintained on thyroxine for the next two years before the paediatricians were prepared to bring it into hospital, stop the therapy and await the rise in TSH to obtain the definitive diagnosis.)

By the time Morgan retired in 1988, the department, the Institute of Clinical Biochemistry, housed many activities supported by research grants totalling millions of pounds, the largest being 25 million US Dollars for a 6 year lipid lowering trial, West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study (WOSCOPS), the positive results of which were published in 1995. Over a dozen staff were also post-graduate students and the department was a major training centre. During the 22 years the department had "produced" 24 medical Consultant Biochemists, including five full professors, about eight Top Grade Biochemists and many Principal Biochemists. The library contained over 1300 papers and around 45 theses which had been written by members of the department. Morgan was awarded the A.C.B. Wellcome Prize in 1989. He died in 2006. (ref: 107, 149, 185)

In 2007 the Scottish Region of the ACB held a 2 day meeting in Crieff at which Prof Matt McQueen delivered the first HGM Memorial Lecture.

The Obituary published by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (3/11/2006) (ref 185) states:-

"All of the above achievements made Gemmell Morgan a remarkable man, but one little known fact adds a new dimension to his distinction. At the age of 18, while a first year medical student he was discovered to have a fist-sized malignant tumour of his left thigh which, remarkably, did not spread widely throughout his body, but did recur locally on three occasions. Major mutilating surgery was recommended but Gemmell opted for intensive courses of radiotherapy which caused the tumour to regress. In 2005 he confided that "the lump is still there and worries me occasionally." The story did not end there. As a result of his intensive radiotherapy Gemmell developed a blockage of his left femoral artery and a swelling of his lower aorta which almost cost him his leg during a business trip to Mexico. Skilful reparative surgery in his own hospital replaced the defective artery with a Dacron graft which served him well for almost thirty years. Ultimate failure of the graft deprived us of a clinical biochemist of tremendous vision. The Institute which he left behind is a monument to his enthusiasm, persistence and drive."

Photos from Gemmell Morgan's Retiral Meeting

Bob Wilson, Registrar at Stobhill General Hospital from 1961 to 1967, was appointed as Senior Registrar in 1967. He was appointed as Consultant Biochemist to the Renfrewshire District in 1970 where he remained until his retiral in 1989. (ref: 102)

In 1968, RJ Crawford (later Consultant in BTS, Law Hospital, Lanarkshire) worked in the medical unit at the Royal Infirmary. In contrast to his experiences in Stobhill General Hospital, where the laboratory registrar (Bob Wilson, among others) would come daily to discuss and prescribe the intravenous fluid regimes, he found that laboratory reports seemed to be issued and no-one appeared to care how they were used. (In fact, at that time the department had large drum files so that the duty biochemist could check the previous reports for each patient and to ensure that the reports were in order.) However, one day a fairly young man came into the ward at the run. "Took the stairs .. couldn't wait for the lift. Is McLaren your patient? His potassium is (some figure incompatible with life). I quite often get to the ward with reports like this and am the first person to realise that the patient has died." Crawford assured the "heavy breathing expert" that death was indeed expected (as the patient had uncontrolled leukaemia) and asked his name. "Oh, I'm Professor Morgan" was the reply.

Basil Rifkind, who had worked with Fredrickson, was appointed as a physician in 1968. He set up a Lipids Clinic in the Royal Infirmary and HG Morgan arranged for the laboratory to provide the necessary analytical support. Rifkind went to the USA in 1971 and there became a world authority on lipids and atherogenesis at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Janet M Duncan was at the Royal when she joined the ACB in 1968 and she moved to Ayrshire in 1971.

Jim Shepherd, a Glasgow University Brunton Memorial Prize winner (1968), who had been a Lecturer in Biochemistry at Glasgow University under JN Davidson and RMS Smellie, was appointed as Senior Registrar in 1973. He continued Rifkind's work in the study of lipids. From 1976 to 1977, Shepherd and Chris Packard (see below) went to work under Professor A (Tony) M Gotto Jr in Houston, Texas. They returned in 1977 to build up the Lipid Section of the department. Shepherd was appointed as Senior Lecturer and Consultant in 1977, Reader in 1984 and as Professor ca. 1987 and as Head of Department, on Morgan's retiral, in 1988. During the 1990s, he directed the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study (WOSCOPS), which involved a screening programme for 85,000 individuals from whom 6,500 were selected for the prevention trial. The study employed approx. 120 people. Shepherd received the ACB Foundation Award in 1998 and retired in 2006. He died in 2022 (ref: 155)

In 1974 Chris Packard was appointed as a PhD student. He was appointed as Top Grade Biochemist in 1990 and to a Personal Chair in 1995. He was elected as an Honorary Member of the ACB in 2016.

Gordon Fell and A Ralph Henderson were appointed as Lecturers in 1969. Fell was later appointed as Senior Lecturer, then Reader and, in 1992, to titular professor. He took charge of the department's Trace Element Unit. He retired in 1998. Henderson was appointed as Senior Lecturer in 1972 and went to the University Hospital, London, Ontario in 1973. (ref: 66)

John (Ian) King was appointed as Principal Biochemist in 1969. Subsequently he was appointed as Top Grade Biochemist and Honorary Clinical Lecturer. After service as air crew in the R.A.F. during World War II, he became a laboratory technician in Durham and obtained an external BSc in mathematics from London University. Prior to his appointment in Glasgow, he had been Principal Biochemist in the North Lonsdale Hospital, Barrow-on-Furness where he wrote "Practical Clinical Enzymology" which was published in 1965. His fundamental work on the human cholinesterases gained him a PhD in 1974. He remained at the Royal Infirmary until his death in May 1978. In 1980, the Scottish Region of the Association of Clinical Biochemists established the The John King Award in his memory. (ref: 22)

Matthew J McQueen, worked for his PhD while he was a Lecturer in the Department of Surgery from 1969 to 1972. John King was his "most generous and unselfish" supervisor. McQueen was appointed as Registrar in 1972 and Senior Registrar from 1973 to 1974. McQueen went as Assistant Professor of Pathology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1974 and Hamilton, Ontario, in 1976 where he was appointed Head of Clinical Chemistry at the Hamilton General Hospital and Professor in the Department of Pathology at McMaster University. He was instrumental in the introduction of SI Units in Canada. In 2007 he delivered the first Gemmel Morgan Memorial Lecture at the Scottish Region of the ACB meeting in Crieff. In 2009 he was awarded Honorary Membership of the ACB and he was admitted as an Honorary Fellow to the Royal College of Pathologists in 2013. (ref: 131, 179)

Sheena Brownlie was appointed as secretary ca. 1970. As well as being departmental and professorial secretary, she served on the organisation committees of countless local, national and international meetings.

Baggat F Allam, who had trained under CP Stewart in Edinburgh and who had been in Stoke on Trent from 1968 to 1970, was appointed as Senior Registrar in 1970. He was appointed as Consultant at Stobhill General Hospital in 1975 and retired in the late 1990s.

William J Tilstone and Philip C Reavey developed a toxicology service in the early 1970s. Reavey, appointed in the mid-1970s, moved to Kuwait in 1978. He was about to return from a holiday in the UK when the Gulf War broke out, so he stayed and joined Beckmann. Tilstone later was appointed as Professor in Forensic Science at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Edward A Mills was appointed as Registrar in 1970, and as Senior Registrar in 1972. He was appointed as Consultant at Law Hospital, Lanarkshire in 1976 where he died in service in 1985. (ref: 6)

J Eric Carlyle, from Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow, was appointed as Senior Biochemist in 1971. He was appointed as Principal Biochemist at Gartnavel General Hospital, Glasgow, in 1975 and as Top Grade Biochemist at Law Hospital, Lanarkshire, in 1979.

Douglas DA Robertson was appointed as Registrar in 1972 and later as Senior Registrar. He was appointed as Consultant in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, in 1978 and retired in 2007.

Robert (Bob) R Burns, from University College Hospital, London (1969 to 73), was appointed as Basic Grade Biochemist (and later as Senior Biochemist) in 1973. He was appointed as Senior Biochemist at Inverclyde Royal Hospital, Greenock, in 1979. He was appointed as Principal Biochemist there in 1984 and as Top Grade Biochemist in 1990. He retired in 2010.

Alan Belfield from Gartnavel General Hospital was appointed as Principal Biochemist in 1975. He was appointed as Principal Biochemist at Glasgow Maternity Hospital in 1978 and as Top Grade Biochemist at Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, in 1985. He retired in 2000.

Fiona Ballantyne (nee Collie) returned from a year in Stockholm, Sweden (1975 to 76) and was appointed as Principal Biochemist in 1979 and Top Grade Biochemist in 1993. She retired in 2002.

Rudi B Sing, who had been a Registrar for three years, moved to RHSC in 1976 and later to the Ministry of Health in London.

John T Robson, from Dundee (1964 to 66), Stirling (1966 to 70) and the Western Infirmary, Glasgow (1970 to 75) was appointed as Consultant in 1975. He left to take up a post in Perth, Australia in 1979.

Peter R Beck, from Worchester, who was appointed in 1974, was appointed as Consultant at the Rotherham District General Hospital ca. 1978. Beck was the last PhD student to study under Ian King and he "turned" the third set of king trophies for the John King Award and presented the 1990 award to Fraser Logue.

Peter Stromberg was appointed ca. 1976. He was appointed as Consultant Biochemist at Hawkhead Hospital, Paisley in 1981 and retired in 2006.

Alastair RW Forrest, who had been appointed in the mid 1970s, was appointed as Consultant at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield ca. 1981.

Denis Bingham and Janet Jubb were both at the Royal Infirmary when they joined the ACB in 1975.

Nigel GL Harding, from Oxford, was appointed in 1977. He was later seconded to the Western Infirmary before returning to a consultant appointment in Oxford.

Michael J Stewart from Dundee (1968 to 1975) and Edinburgh (1975 to 1979) was appointed as Top Grade Biochemist in 1979 and developed the Drug Investigation Unit, assisted, among others, by Ian D Watson. Stewart retired in 1995 and took up a post in Johannesburg where he was appointed as Associate Professor in 2002. He finally retired in 2008 and returned to the UK to live in St Andrews.

Ian D Watson had started his professional career as a technician in Dundee in 1967 and over the years had graduated with DipMTech, FIMLS, MSc, PhD and MRCPath. Watson was appointed as Senior Biochemist in 1979 and Principal Biochemist in 1987. He was appointed as Top Grade Biochemist in Liverpool in 1990 and became an Honorary Member of the ACB when he retired in 2014. He published "Fundamentals of Analytical Toxicolgy" along with Bob Flanagan, Andrew Taylor and Robin Whelpton in 2008.

Simon Oakes, Registrar from 1980 to 1983, won the John King Award in 1983 and moved back to Melbourne, Australia in the same year. He was a consultant in the Royal Children's Hospital there when he died in 1996.

Alan S Hutchison, who was appointed ca. 1983, was appointed as Consultant Biochemist at the Southern General Hospital in 1987.

Bill Borland, from Stobhill, was appointed as Senior Biochemist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1984

In 1984 Denis SJ O'Reilly, who did his medical training in Cork and had been a Registrar in Birmingham and Senior Registrar in Bristol, was appointed as Consultant Biochemist. He gave the Flynn Lecture entitled "Inflammation: Its impacton biochemical parameters and micronutrient assessment" at FOCUS 2012. He was the Clinical Lead of the Department of Clinical Biochemistry and Immunology for NHS Greater Grlasgow and Clyde North Glasgow University Hospitals and Director of the Scottish Trace Element and Micronutrient Reference Laboratory when he retied in 2012. (ref: 34, 36)

David Boag, Registrar and Senior Registrar, was appointed Consultant at Law Hospital, Lanarkshire in 1985 and as Consultant at Crosshouse Hospital in Ayrshire in 1986.

In 1984 Professor John Lenihan retired from the Department of Clinical Physics and Bioengineering and it was decided that staff in that department's Environmental Health Unit should unite with Gordon Fell and David Halls thereby centralising Trace Element Services in the Biochemistry Department. David Lyons, who had been employed to investigate hospital water supplies for lead when this proved a problem in newly built hospitals, and Janet M Warren moved to the Royal Infirmary at that time. Warren had been appointed to an M.R.C. funded post in the Glasgow Royal Hospital for Sick Children in 1958 to investigate strontium-90 (from radioactive fallout) in the bones of children in Scotland. She was seconded to Dr Herta Spencer's Unit in the Hines V.A. Hospital near Chicago (1968 to 1970) and was appointed as a Senior Biochemist in R.H.S.C. in 1972. She had joined Prof. Lenihan's Unit in 1980 to provide a monitoring service of mercury exposure in dental practice and arsenic exposure monitoring for those employed in the semiconductor production industry. She was appointed as Principal biochemist in 1988 and retired in 2002. (Ref: 128)

The Environmental Health Laboratory had been established in 1973 formalising and reinforcing the long-standing collaboration between the University Department of Forensic Medicine and The Department of Clinical Physics and Bio-engineering. These departments had conducted neutron activation studies of hundreds of hair samples dating back to the first century and showed that, contrary to popular belief, there is less pollution now than in the past. Among the hair samples were specimens from Robert Burns whose hair contained mercury at 8 parts per million (ppm) (compared to a typical value found today of around 2 or 3 ppm, attributable partly to dental amalgam fillings), Napoleon Bonaparte (whose hair had high arsenic levels) and Charles II (whose hair contained 55 ppm of mercury). (Ref: 178)

Marek H Dominiczak was appointed as Consultant at Glasgow Western Infirmary in 1985.

David Sinclair, who had been a Basic Grade Biochemist in the Immunology Dept., at Glasgow Western Infirmary, was appointed as Senior Biochemist in 1987. He was appointed as Principal Biochemist in Portsmouth in 1992.

Morag Degan, who had been a Research Assistant at Glasgow Stobhill General Hospital, was appointed as Senior Biochemist in Lipids in 1988 and moved into general biochemistry in the department in 1992.

Dairena Gaffney, Principal Biochemist in Molecular Biology, won the John King Award in 1989.

Other biochemists at the Royal Infirmary in the 1970s & 80s include M Hazel Carse, from the Royal Maternity Hospital, (later Miller), Robert A Cowan, Morag M Dagen, who came from Stobhill in 1988, MJ Dunne, SM Gillespie who moved to Newcastle and then South Tyneside, AD McBride, NC Paterson, ADS Smith and RM Sutherland whose PhD thesis was on TSH screening in hypothyroidism - he later joined Abbott.

Archie A McConnell, who was a Registrar in the early 1980s, was appointed as a Senior Registrar in Southmead Hospital, Bristol and as Consultant at Inverclyde Royal Hospital in 1990 and retired in 2014.

Matty Lough, who had been appointed in the early 1980s, was appointed as Consultant at Crosshouse Hospital in Ayrshire in 1990.

John Series, who had been a Registrar in Sheffield & Doncaster prior to his appointment at Glasgow Royal Infirmary was appointed as Consultant in Bath in 1990 and in Vale of Leven in 1993. He retired in 2013 or 2014.

Alan Shenkin, who joined the department in the early 1970s and worked with Sir David Cuthbertson on nutrition, was appointed to the new Chair of Chemical Pathology in Liverpool in 1990. He had long standing interest in micronutrients and systemic inflammatory response syndrome and this was the topic of a meeting held on 29th November 2007 to celebrate his career. He was the President of the ACB from 2000 to 2002. In 2009 he delivered the Gemmel Morgan Memorial Lecture at the Scottish Region of the ACB meeting in Crieff. He was elected as an Honorary Member of the ACB when he retired in 2008.

Bill Simpson, Registrar (1984 to 1986) and Senior Registrar (1986 to 1990), was appointed in Aberdeen in 1990.

During the early 1990s there was a large reduction in the number of staff and at the end of 1993 the Haematology Department moved in to share the same building with the Biochemistry Department.

At December 1993 the Medical and Scientific staff comprised;-


Prof. James Shepherd, Dr Frances J Dryburgh Dr Dennis StJ O'Reilly

Senior Registrars

Dr John Hinnie, Mr Michael J Murphy, Dr W Stuart A Smellie


Dr Peter Galloway, Dr Janet McIlroy, Dr Naveed Sattar

Top Grade Biochemists

Dr Michael J Stewart, Dr Graham H Beastall Dr Allan S McLelland Dr Chris J Packard

Principal Biochemists

Dr Fiona C Ballantyne, Dr Bill Borland, Dr Dairena Gaffney Dr Christina E Gray Dr David Halls, Dr Jennifer Johnston (previously Elder), Dr Hazel Miller (previously Carse; retired 2009), Dr A Michael Wallace, Dr Janet Warren

Senior Biochemists

Dr Andy Duncan, Ms Karen Smith, Dr Dinesh Talwar

University staff

Prof. Gordon Fell, Dr Brian Cook, Dr Bob Cowans, Dr David Lyons


Dr Michael McConway

William D Fraser, Registrar and Senior Registrar, was appointed as Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Liverpool in 1991 and to a personal chair in 2001. He was appointed as Professor of Metabolic Medicine and head of the research unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich in 2011.

John G O'Donnell, Registrar and Senior Registrar, was appointed as Consultant in Northampton in 1991 and in Borders General in 2007.

John Paterson, Senior Registrar, was appointed as Consultant at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary in 1991. Paterson died in 2004.

Ann M Cruickshank, Registrar (appointed 1984) and Senior Registrar, was appointed as Consultant in the Glasgow Southern General Hospital in 1992.

Andy Duncan was appointed as Senior Biochemist in 1992, having been a Senior in the Gastro-enterology Laboratory at Glasgow Royal from 1983. Prior to that he had been Basic Biochemist at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (1979 to 1981) and Basic Grade Biochemist at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton (1981 to 83). He was transferred to the Trace Elements Unit in 2005.

Alan R Pettigrew, from Royal Hospital for Sick children (1974 to 1980) and Gartnavel General (1980 to 2005) was appointed to look after the Gastrointestinal Investigation Section following Andy Duncan's transfer to the Trace Elements Unit at Glasgow Royal. He retired in August 2009.

Jenny Johnston was appointed as Principal Biochemist in Bishop Aukland in 1999. She celebrated her retirement in 2010 by cycling across the Pyrenees from Toulouse for 2 weeks to raise money for charity.

Janet McIlroy was appointed as Registrar in the 1990s. She was appointed as a locum consultant in Stoke Mandeville and John Radcliffe Hospitals in Oxford in 2000 and as consultant in Leeds in 2001 (where she became Dr Horner). She was appointed as consultant for Hairmyres and Monklands Hospitals in Lanarkshire in 2006 and as consultant for Glasgow North in 2012.

Other biochemists at the Royal Infirmary in the 1990s include Al Alrawi and Deborah Johnson.

Gillian Gray was appointed as a Grade A Trainee in 2000, Senior Biochemist at Monklands Hospital, Lanarkshire in 2003 and Principal Biochemist at Inverclyde and Paisley in 2010.

Sarah Jarvis, who had been appointed as a Grade A Trainee in 2003, was appointed as Senior Biochemist in 2005 and as Principal Biochemist at Wishaw General in 2008.

Louise Todd, who had been a Grade A Trainee at Wishaw Hospital, Lanarkshire from 2002, was appointed as Senior Biochemist in 2005. She was appointed as senior biochemist at Monklands Hospital, Lanarkshire, in 2011.

Caroline Millar was appointed as consultant at the Royal Alexandra Infirmary, Paisley, in 2015. She was appointed as consultant in Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 2019.

John Wadsworth was appointed in 2016 on completing his Grade A trainee appointment in Liverpool. He won the ACB Medal Award in 2016.

Alison Fairservice, Grade A trainee from Derby Royal and Senior Biochemist at Wishaw General from 2013 was appointed as Principal Biochemist in 2017.

In 2015 Lyn Ferguson won the John King Ward with a paper entitled "Bones, stones, groans and psychic moans".

Craig Livie, from the Royal Alexandra Infirmary, Paisley, was appointed as Principal Clinical Scientist in 2019.

Dr Louisa Lee won the John King Award in 2019 with a paper entitled "Development and Validation of an LCSM/MS Method for the Measurement of DHEAS". Mr Christopher King, son of John King, presented the award at the Regional Meeting at the COSLA Conference Centre, Edinburgh on 29th October 2019.

Glasgow Royal Infirmary - Endocrine Unit

Glasgow - Belvedere, Duke Street, Royal Mat., etc

Return to Introduction / Index

Last updated May 2022