Lives of the fellows

Brian McArdle

b.11 April 1911 d.1 August 2002
MRCS LRCP(1933) MB BS Lond(1934) DCH(1935) MRCP(1936) MD(1937) FRCP(1960)

Brian McArdle gave his name to ‘McArdle’s disease’, or glycogen storage disease type 5. In 1951 he described the case of a young man who experienced pain followed by weakness and stiffness after exercise, symptoms which had been dismissed as psychological. McArdle found that no lactic acid was produced during anaerobic exercise, indicating a defect in muscle glycogen breakdown.

Brian McArdle was born in Balham, London, the son of Andrew McArdle, the Scotsman’s parliamentary correspondent, and Mary Frances Clare née Woods. He was educated at Wimbledon School, and then went to Guy’s to study medicine, qualifying in 1933. His older brother, Michael John Francis McArdle, known as ‘Sean’ [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IX, p.326], also went to Guy’s and became an eminent neurologist. Brian held junior posts at Guy’s, Great Ormond Street and at the Brompton Hospital. In 1936 he was a medical registrar at Guy’s, and from 1936 to 1939 was an Elmore medical research student at Cambridge.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, he began to work for the Medical Research Council, at the National Hospital, Queen Square, researching sea sickness (in preparation for D-Day), air sickness and the effects of heat in confined spaces, including tanks and ships.

In 1947, he returned to Guy’s, to the clinical research unit and then the chemical pathology department. Here he worked on muscular and neuromuscular conditions, and discovered his eponymous disease. He retired in 1973.

He married Elizabeth Ursula ‘Betty’ Woodman in 1940. They had three sons and a daughter. In his later years he developed Parkinson’s disease, from which he died.

RCP editor

[The Times 8 August 2002; Brit.med.J.,2002 325 497]

(Volume XII, page web)

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