Lives of the fellows

Ian Chalmers Gilliland

b.16 February 1913 d.10 July 1975
MB ChB Edin(1935) MRCPE(1948) MRCP(1948) MD(1949) FRCPE(1957) FRCP(1964)

Ian Gilliland was born in Rhodesia of mixed North Irish and Scottish stock, the son of a member of the pioneer column sent out by Rhodes to colonise Mashonaland in 1890. After early schooling there he went to Edinburgh, proceeding from George Watson’s College to the University. He held a Vans Dunlop scholarship and graduated MB, ChB in 1935. After residency appointments at Edinburgh he had a spell of two years in general practice in Yorkshire. Immediately war broke out he entered the Services and had a distinguished military career. He served first at home, then in the Middle East and later with the Commandos and Airborne Field Ambulance. He became a lieutenant-colonel and was mentioned in despatches on the D-Day landing.

On demobilization he came to the Postgraduate Medical School for retraining in medicine, where he developed his special interest in diabetes and endocrinology, and also began his long association with Hammersmith Hospital. He quickly achieved recognition as an accomplished general physician, and in 1954 he became part-time consultant at Hammersmith Hospital with care of long-stay patients and in charge of St. Helena’s Recovery Home at Cricklewood, a post he held till his death. In 1956 he became also a consultant to the Prince of Wales’ Hospital, Tottenham Group.

He contributed by research to the problems of the renal complications of diabetes mellitus (the subject of his MD thesis), and of the thyroid stimulators circulating in thyroid disease. Using chicks and I131, he developed one of the first bioassays sensitive to the thyroid stimulators in human serum, and found their levels frequently raised in Graves’ disease, a finding which Purves and Adams have shown to be due to the antibody LATS rather than to pituitary TSH. His studies on renal disease in diabetes were done partly in London and partly in Denmark with Hagedorn in 1953; they helped to define the characteristic lesions, their signs, and their dependence on duration of diabetes. Subsequently he pursued metabolic studies in obesity and in the phenomena of pre- and post-surgical starvation. With D. Ferriman he wrote a Synopsis of Endocrinology.

Completely unselfish, he devoted much of his attention to the raising of teaching standards and was much appreciated by the junior staff in his various hospitals. In 1968 he relinquished most of his consultant work, sacrificing substantial income, to serve his ideals on joining the staff of the British Postgraduate Medical Federation. He was regional postgraduate dean for the Northwest Metropolitan Area and later became assistant director of the British Postgraduate Federation, visiting Israel and the United States in the expansion of his experience as a teaching organizer. He had a special aptitude for enrolling the help of distinguished experts in the basic and clinical sciences in the preparation of audiovisual recordings, which were much valued and appreciated in postgraduate activities not only in the London area but also outside. He was a key figure in the development of this work in the audiovisual centre of the University of London. His expertise in photography as well as in medical teaching made him a successful launcher of its first programmes.

A keen and gifted teacher, a reliable and enthusiastic organizer, he exerted a considerable influence by example on his juniors. In his younger days he held radical views, but never obtruded these on his colleagues. He worked with loyal devotion to the higher interests of medicine wherever he saw an opportunity of being of service. Gifted with great personal charm, his greatest pleasure lay in being helpful to his colleagues. He was an enthusiastic motorist, enjoying anything from a vintage Rolls to a baby Fiat, but his more serious interests included archaeology, and he derived great satisfaction from taking an important part over several years in the excavations at Masada in Israel. He became editor of the Postgraduate Medical Journal, and played a key part in the launching of Medicine as a give-away serial textbook to be put in the hands of every practitioner. In his last illness he faced all the problems with great and exemplary fortitude. Ian Gilliland was survived by his wife and two daughters.

Sir John McMichael
T Russell C Fraser

[Brit.med.J., 1975, 2, 234; Lancet, 1975, 2, 135]

(Volume VI, page 198)

<< Back to List