Lives of the fellows

Ian Lyall Thompson

b.4 April 1930 d.18 August 1989
MBBS Sydney(1954) MRCP Lond(1959) MRACP(1961) FRACP(1971) FRCP(1978)

Ian Thompson was born in Melbourne, Australia, where his father was an advertising manager. He was dux of Scots College Sydney and graduated in medicine with honours from Sydney University. After two years of residency at Sydney Hospital he spent three years with Tufts Medical Service at Boston City Hospital, USA, being chief resident for two of those years. His time in the United States was followed by a year in London, part of which was spent at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith. After obtaining his membership of the College in 1959 he returned to Tufts as clinical fellow in haematology and worked with William Moloney from July 1963 to October 1964. He subsequently returned to Australia and was appointed visiting physician at Sydney Hospital. From the outset he was involved in student teaching and was student supervisor for a number of years in the Sydney Hospital clinical school. From 1968 he was a member of the combined haematology division at Sydney Hospital until the unit was dispersed as part of major reorganization of the hospital.

From 1982 until his death Ian was an active member of the haematology unit at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney. He was to leave behind him a reputation as a keen and effective teacher at undergraduate and postgraduate level. He became involved in preparing candidates for the clinical examinations of the RACP and was an examiner on a number of occasions. He was a member of the NSW State committee of the RACP from 1970-78 and also involved in the Haematology Society of Australia.

Ian was principally a clinical haematologist by training and practice but he was also a consummate physician who maintained a breadth of clinical expertise. He was respected by colleagues and patients as a man of integrity, compassion and sensitivity and was much sought after for advice on the more complex and unusual clinical problems.

He was a truly cultured man whose interests outside medicine were many and varied. He had a wide circle of friends, many of whom were artists, musicians and writers. Travelling often and widely overseas, his trips would be preceded by months of research into details of the history and culture of the places to which he would travel. He had an extensive knowledge and appreciation of opera and it was indeed a rare occasion when his travels did not take in the major opera houses of the world.

Ian Thompson was a very significant person on the Sydney medical scene. He was impatient with incompetence but long-suffering with the ignorant. In his last years of clinical practice he was an important member of the AIDS unit at St Vincent s, giving willingly of his time, expertise and emotional support to AIDS sufferers and their families. His qualities as a superb general physician and his expertise in haematology placed him in a unique position to deal with the complexities of AIDS in its varied expressions. After his death his friends and colleagues established the Ian Lyall Thompson Memorial Research Fellowship which is administered by the Research Advisory Committee of the RACP.

There were two daughters of an early marriage which later ended in divorce.

W J Benson

[RACP Fellowship Affairs, October 1990]

(Volume IX, page 515)

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