Lives of the fellows

Eric Kennedy Cruickshank

b.29 December 1914 d.8 August 2007
OBE(1961) MB ChB Aberd(1937) MD(1948) MRCP(1948) FRCP(1955) Hon FACP(1970)

Eric Kennedy Cruickshank was professor of medicine and dean of the University of the West Indies and subsequently professor of postgraduate medical education at Glasgow University. He was born in Dumfries, the second son of John Cruickshank, later the first professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, and Jessie Cromarty Cruickshank née Allan, a nurse and the daughter of a farmer. Cruickshank’s mother died early from tuberculosis. He was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School, and then went on to study medicine at Aberdeen University. He qualified MB ChB in 1937.

He held house posts at Aberdeen University, and then went to the United States on a Harvard scholarship. In 1939 he returned to Scotland, where he was an assistant in the department of medicine at Aberdeen University.

In 1940, at the beginning of the Second World War, he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was posted to Singapore and was twice mentioned in despatches for his courage in retrieving wounded servicemen, but was eventually caught by the Japanese and imprisoned in the notorious Changi jail. He spent three and a half years there, working in a makeshift hospital, helping his starving and sick colleagues. He managed to keep case records, and these formed the basis of his MD thesis, on malnutrition and the problems of the nervous system, which he was awarded in 1948.

In 1948 he was appointed as a consultant specialist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and as a senior lecturer in medicine at Aberdeen University. He then went to Mona, Jamaica, as professor of medicine and the first dean of the medical school at the University of the West Indies. While in Jamaica he was the first to observe and describe Jamaican neuropathy, a neurological disorder linked to malnutrition.

In 1972 Cruickshank returned to Scotland, as professor of postgraduate medical education at the University of Glasgow. He was also an educator for the World Health Organization, visiting and teaching in medical schools across the world. He served on the General Medical Council in the UK from 1976 to 1980.

Outside medicine, he enjoyed ornithology and gardening. He was captain of Aberdeen Grammar School rugby club and, as a university student, played for north of Scotland when they took on the South Africa rugby team.

In 1951 he married Catherine Ann Burch, with whom he had four children. In 1969 he married for a second time, to Josephine Williams. They all survived him.

RCP editor

[The University of Glasgow, The University of Glasgow Story, Eric Cruickshank, Biography of Eric Cruickshank – accessed 22 June 2014; The Herald 25 October 2007 – accessed 22 June 2014; West Indian Med J Vol 56, no 4, Sept 2007; Wellcome Library, Dr Eric Cruickshank: a Scotsman up for a challenge – accessed 22 June 2014]

(Volume XII, page web)

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