Lives of the fellows

George Ranken Tudhope

b.28 January 1924 d.24 July 1998
BSc St And(1944) MB ChB(1947) MD(1959) MRCP Edin(1953) MRCP(1954) FRCP Edin(1961) FRCP(1970)

George Ranken Tudhope, 'Ranken' to his family and 'George' to his colleagues, was a reader in therapeutics at the University of Dundee and honorary consultant physician at Ninewalls Hospital and the Royal Infirmary, Dundee. He was born in Newport (on Tay) and, after being educated at Bell Baxter High School, Fife, studied science and medicine at the University of St Andrews. He had a highly successful undergraduate career, culminating in graduation with commendation and gaining the Low medal as the most distinguished student of his year.

His house officer appointments were in Dundee and Barnsley. After two years National Service in the RAMC, he returned to Dundee, as successively clinical assistant, university assistant and registrar in the department of pharmacology and therapeutics at Maryfield Hospital, with R B (later Lord) Hunter.

From 1954 to 1960 he was a lecturer in the University of Sheffield. During this time he held a travelling fellowship, awarded by the Medical Research Council. He was attached to the department of medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, where he did research with M M Wintrobe in haematology. From 1960 to 1964 he was senior lecturer in therapeutics at Sheffield and consultant physician at the United Sheffield Hospitals.

Tudhope returned to his alma mata in 1964, as senior lecturer in therapeutics in the University of St Andrews (later Dundee) and consultant physician at Maryfield Hospital. In 1969 he was promoted to a readership in therapeutics at the University of Dundee, transferring his consultant post to the old Dundee Royal Infirmary and the new Ninewalls Hospital in 1974.

Sadly, while still an active clinician and academic, he sustained a devastating abdominal emergency which left him physically and intellectually a shell of his former self. Though he remained in post for some time, he had to seek premature retirement.

His research ranged from clinical studies to basic biochemical investigations, and led to some 60 publications - no mean accomplishment by one so heavily committed to patient care and administrative responsibilities. His early papers were mainly on anticoagulant therapy. Two papers on the use of radioactive isotopes for the labelling of red cells, written early in his career in Sheffield, were the forerunners of what was to be one of his major research successes and for which he was awarded an MD with honours and a Rutherford gold medal. He wrote a further six papers on the use of radioactive isotopes for the assessment of gastro-intestinal blood loss and other problems.

While in Sheffield he also worked with several colleagues on various aspects of pernicious anaemia, including variability of response to different forms of vitamin B12 and its relationship to thyroid disease. The latter led him to make a personal study which resulted in a monograph, The thyroid and the blood (London, Heinemann Medical, 1969). During his attachment to Wintrobe's department he became committed to a long term study of red cell enzymes, particularly those involved in the protection of the red cell from oxidative damage, publishing 18 papers on related topics.

In the latter part of his career he renewed his interest in the thyroid and wrote a section on haematological aspects of endocrine disease in Haematological aspects of systemic disease edited by M C G Israels and I W Delamore (London, Saunders, 1976). His other haematological contributions included papers on Razoxane treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia, splenectomy, thrombocytosis and iron deficiency, and anti-cancer chemotherapy. He did research on diuretics, publishing (jointly) several papers on the pharmacology and clinical use of Triamterine and a more general paper on diuretic therapy.

He was heavily involved in committees at local, regional and national levels. In Dundee he served for many years on the local formulary committee and was a major contributor to several oncology committees. He was director of the Tayside Haemophilia Centre. On the academic side, he was a member of the admissions committee and eventually its chairman, and a member of various curriculum, research and ethical committees.

Apart from his heavy local examining activities, he was external examiner at various times on therapeutics and clinical medicine to the Universities of Aberdeen, Belfast, Birmingham, Glasgow and Sheffield. For about 20 years he served as examiner for the Royal Colleges of Physicians, being for a time on the examination board of the Edinburgh College. He was a member of the editorial board of the Scottish Medical Journal.

On the wider scene, he was for over 20 years a member of the joint formulary committee and was responsible for the revision of many parts of the British National Formulary. He also served on the pharmacology sub-committee of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and the British Pharmacopoeia Commission and various related committees in London and Edinburgh. He was also on the committee of the British Medical Association preparing evidence for the Sainsbury Committee of Enquiry into the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and the National Health Service. These activities added up to an enormous workload.

Despite this enormous work load, made possible only through great organizing ability and dedication, he retained a great sense of humour. He coped well with his general and haematological clinical load. Only his close colleagues and particularly his juniors knew how, despite commuting to London and elsewhere, he was always available for his share of duty at Ninewalls Hospital, punctual with outpatient and inpatient work and teaching. His lectures, like himself, were well-organized, balanced and informative. He was readily available to support junior colleagues in difficult clinical situations.

The fact that he was unable to enjoy to the full the retirement he so richly deserved was sad, especially for his wife Jessie, whom he married in 1948, and their two sons.

Henry B Goodall

[Brit.med.J., 318,1999,541; Proceedings, Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, 24,1999,272]

(Volume XI, page 584)

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