Lives of the fellows

Iain Thomson Boyle

b.7 October 1935 d.23 November 2001
BSc Hons Glasg(1959) MB ChB(1962) MRCP(1965) MRCP Glasg(1965) FRCP Glasg(1974) FRCP(1978)

Iain Thomson Boyle was a reader in medicine and a consultant physician in Glasgow. He contributed greatly in many areas and to many organizations, including the University of Glasgow, the University of Strathclyde, the Royal Infirmary and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

An outstanding pupil and school captain of Paisley Grammar, Iain was lent books by Sir Samuel Curran with a view to becoming a nuclear physicist. However, illness at school determined him to become a doctor. He had a distinguished career at Glasgow University, graduating initially with first class honours in biochemistry. His promise and talent were recognized and nurtured by Edward McGirr, Muirhead professor of medicine in the Royal Infirmary.

Iain trained in general medicine, becoming first a member and, in later years, being elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Glasgow and London. His special aptitudes and training in biochemistry and medicine led to the development of his interest in endocrinology and then to mineral metabolism - a term encompassing bones and their diseases. This became his life's work.

The two years Iain spent in Madison, Wisconsin, working with Hector DeLuca were important for them both. Fundamental and clinically significant advances in vitamin D metabolism were achieved.

On his return to Scotland, Iain progressed from lecturer to senior lecturer and then to reader in McGirr's and then Kennedy's department at the Royal Infirmary and University of Glasgow. General metabolism and metabolic bone disease investigation and research flourished and, under his tutelage, many young scientist doctors, including Stewart Ralston, Brendan Boyce, Ignatius Fogelman and Steven Gallagher, went forth to establish academic departments.

In 1973, he was awarded the Alexander Fletcher memorial prize of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow for his work on the role of the kidney in controlling calcium metabolism.

He was an office bearer and then president of what was whimsically called the Bone and Tooth Society - the main UK society for bone and mineral research. His work on osteoporosis was known and acclaimed nationally and internationally.

Iain's contribution to Strathclyde University was in developing the student health service. The student health service that Iain brought to fruition with the help of his team is recognized as the best in the United Kingdom. Iain was very proud of the distinction of being awarded an honorary degree from Strathclyde university.

Iain found enjoyment and fulfilment in his work with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. A member of council, chairman of the symposium committee and the first medical vice president, Iain was an inspiring librarian from 1994. As a scholar and lover of books and literature he brought new life and thoughts to the 300 year-old library.

Clinician, clinical scientist and, above all, a scholar with wide interests, he had expertise in Scottish history. Distinguished in philately, he was always interested in knowledge for its own sake.

Iain Thomson Boyle was a man who was devoted to his family and who equally was cherished by them. To the end he was more interested in others than in himself. His gentle smile, sometimes quizzical, always charming, was never lost.

A Ross Lorimer

[The Times 7 Jan 2002; Brit.med.J.,2002,324,116]

(Volume XI, page 74)

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