b.4 September 1870 d.10 December 1954
MA St And(1890) MB CM Aberd(1894) MD Aberd(1898) MRCP(1900) FRCP(1916)
John Macleod was born at Galston, Ayrshire, the eldest son of John Balmain Macleod, a physician to Dundee Royal Infirmary, and his wife, Catherine, daughter of John Hendrie, of Galston. For a time after his graduation at Aberdeen University he was assistant to the professor of physiology, before he decided to specialise in dermatology. In 1901, after studying its pathology and histology under Hebra, Kaposi and Ehrmann in Vienna, Lassar in Berlin, Unna in Hamburg and Besnier in Paris, he ran courses on them at his house in Harley Street and in a small laboratory at Charing Cross Hospital where he had been appointed assistant to Sir James Galloway, and was to serve on its staff from 1903 to 1930. He was also appointed to the staff of the Victoria Hospital for Children in Chelsea, and from 1906 lectured on skin diseases at the London School of Tropical Medicine.
In 1909 he attended the Second International Congress on Leprosy in Bergen as the School’s representative. Shortly afterwards, Sir Malcolm Morris, who had been the Government representative, founded the Homes of St. Giles for British Lepers; Macleod succeeded him as medical director in 1923 and did much for the physical and mental betterment of the patients. Its original pathological laboratory in the out-patient department of St. John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin bears his name.
As a result of a visit to Sabouraud’s clinic for ringworm at the St. Louis Hospital in Paris in 1904 he installed in his house an X-ray set that would depilate the scalp by giving fractional doses. This primitive apparatus gave forty years’ service, and has an honoured place in the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum. Another of Macleod’s interests aroused by the visit was the study of mycology; by his researches he showed that each country had its own peculiar ringworm flora. He also produced the practicable form of carbon dioxide snow treatment that had been introduced by Allen Pusey of Chicago in 1908.
In the First World War he was consultant in skin diseases to the Royal Flying Corps; his experiences are recorded in his book, Burns and their treatment (1918). He was president of the British Association of Dermatology and Syphilis in 1930, and president of the St. John’s Hospital Dermatological Society, 1932-4; in 1948 he gave its Prosser White oration, ‘Milestones on a dermatological journey’. Many foreign societies, including those in the United States, Denmark, France and Japan, elected him a corresponding member.
Macleod, a fine representative of his clan, was president of the London branch of its Society. To students he appeared rather formidable, but this was because of his native reserve and his inability to suffer fools gladly. At heart he was essentially kind; his hospitality was that of the Highland aristocrat. He loved sailing, fishing, shooting, and the collection of pictures, china and furniture. He married Eva, daughter of Joseph Ruston, M.P., of Monk’s Manor, Lincoln; they had a son and a daughter.
Richard R Trail
[Brit.J.Derm., 1954, 67, 114-15; Brit.med.J., 1954, 2, 1488-9; Lancet, 1954, 2, 1289-90 (p).]
(Volume V, page 260)
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