Lives of the fellows

Colin John McRae

b.13 November 1915 d.? 1992
MB BS Melb(1942) MRACP(1949) MRCP(1951) FRCP(1977) FRACP(1961)

Colin McRae was a cardiologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. He was born in Victoria, Australia, where his father, John McRae, was a civil servant. He was educated at Box Hill High School, Victoria, and studied medicine at Melbourne University. His clinical studies were undertaken at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. After completing house posts at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, he joined the Australian Armed Forces and served from 1944 to 1948. In 1949 he was appointed resident medical officer at the Royal Children’s Hospital. He married Anna Margarethe Beran, the daughter of an engineer, and they subsequently had four children. In 1953 he was appointed honorary physician to the Footscray and District Hospital, a post he held until 1970. In 1961 he was also appointed assistant cardiologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Colin had joined the newly formed subspecialty of cardiology at the Royal Melbourne in 1956 and was put in charge of the electrocardiography service. He made an enormous contribution to the training of cardiologists, resident medical staff, coronary care nurses and ambulance officers in this field and maintained an active association with the service until long after his formal retirement in 1980. He was made an honorary life fellow of the Hospital in 1981 and, despite chronic ill health, continued to contribute to monthly meetings and numerous symposia and training courses. He was greatly respected and had an enviable reputation for his teaching ability, being able - in his own inimitable style - to hold the attention of any type of audience. His logical approach and minimal use of technical language ensured that the messages he conveyed were not only clear but also remembered. He had a vast collection of electrocardiograms representing both common and rare problems and the ability to relate the patterns to clinical practice. He also published two very practical workbooks for teaching medical students and nurses, and many of his lectures have been recorded for continuous use in the teaching of coronary care.

From 1973 he devoted much time to the National Heart Foundation and was, for many years, acting physician to the out-patient department of the Royal Melbourne. His death brought an end to a career which spanned four decades.

J T Dowling
V C Luniewska

[Med.J.of Australia, 1994,160,445]

(Volume X, page 322)

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