Lives of the fellows

Harold Williams Fullerton

b.20 July 1905 d.14 July 1970
MA Aberd(1925) MB BCh(1931) MD(1937) MRCP(1941) FRCP(1949) FRCPE(1955) FRCPath(1966)

Harold Fullerton was educated at Robert Gordon’s College, Aberdeen. He first entered Aberdeen University to read mathematics. After two very successful years of study he decided, however, to leave the Honours class, to take an Ordinary MA and to transfer to medicine. He graduated MA in 1925 and in 1931 MB ChB with highest honours.

After house appointments in the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, he joined the Department of Medicine, but soon went as a Rockefeller Medical Fellow and Research Fellow in Medicine to Harvard University where he worked on clinical and laboratory aspects of haematology. On his return to this country he was awarded a Beit Memorial Research Fellowship and undertook a series of investigations with Sir Stanley Davidson, then head of the University Department of Medicine in Aberdeen. He obtained his MD with honours in 1937 and in 1941 became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians of London. In 1948 he succeeded Professor (later Sir Robert) Aitken in the Regius Chair of Medicine at Aberdeen University and held this appointment for nearly twenty-two years. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1949 and also held Fellowships of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and of the Royal College of Pathologists. In 1968 he was President of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland.

His main research work on abnormalities of the blood was widely recognized and he made numerous contributions to medical journals and textbooks of medicine. For many years he added to his other duties those of clinical haematologist to Aberdeen Hospitals.

Harold Fullerton was a man of fine presence with a noble courtesy of manner. The judicious brevity and quiet moderation with which he expressed his views carried conviction. He had great interest and success in teaching students and in postgraduate training. To the staff of the Department of Medicine he was as the head of a family; wholly dependable, guiding by example, stressing the value of lessons taught by experience and making all a little happier by his presence.

Almost throughout his professional life, up to his last devastating illness, he was called on by repeated and severe illhealth to find reserves of fortitude. This he did with the utmost courage and determination. In 1934 he married Elizabeth Howland Palfrey and they had two daughters. Again the illness of his charming wife, which obliged her to live in her native America, broke up what had obviously been a very happy marriage. Neither his work nor his children were allowed to suffer as a result.

His friends were charmed by many varied qualities, by his total lack of pretension, by his profound appreciation and love of fine music, and by his delightful sense of humour. He died while on holiday in Jamaica.

M MacLeod

[, 1970, 3, 229; Lancet, 1970, 2, 218, 319]

(Volume VI, page 187)

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