Lives of the fellows

Ian Meurig James

b.15 February 1937 d.19 August 1998
MB BS Lond(1960) MRCP(1964) PhD Cantab(1968) MRCS LRCP(1970) FRCP(1975)

Ian Meurig James combined his interests in medicine and music to develop a new discipline - performing arts medicine. He was born on the Gower Peninsula in south Wales, the son of Thomas John James, a teacher who had taught Dylan Thomas, and Margery Lia James. He attended Gowerton Grammar School in Swansea.

Although he was a talented musician, had learnt to play the viola and played in the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, he decided to take up medicine as a career. He trained at University College London and then completed his training in Cambridge, Cardiff and Liverpool. In 1964 he moved to Cambridge to develop his interest in cardiovascular and metabolic research. His work on the neurogenic control of cerebral blood flow led to a PhD.

In 1968 he was appointed as a lecturer in medicine and therapeutics at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine. He was subsequently promoted to senior lecturer and then reader. During the next 30 years he published more than 250 papers on drugs and therapeutics.

He continued to play music and, in the 1970s, pioneered the use of beta blockers for stage fright. But the more he came into contact with musicians suffering from tension, the more he realised that there were underlying problems which could not be tackled solely with medication. He founded the Elmdon Trust, a charity aimed at studying anxiety in performance. Then, in 1984, with a group of others, he set up the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine. Its associated organisation, the British Performing Arts Trust, of which he was chairman for many years, set up an assessment and referral centre in London. More clinics were established in Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff. James was also chairman of the Association of Medical Advisers to British Orchestras, which arranged for every orchestra to have its own specially trained doctor.

He continued to make music, playing in a number of orchestras and chamber groups in his spare time. He married Margary Lovatt in 1968, but they divorced in 1986. He later married Jane Faulkner, the concert violinist. He had two daughters from his first marriage and a son and daughter from his second. He died of cancer.

RCP editor

[The Times 18 Sept 1998; The Daily Telegraph 26 Sept 1998; The Independent 7 Oct 1998; The Guardian 9 Sept 1998]

(Volume XI, page 297)

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