Lives of the fellows

Lionel Gordon Whitby

b.18 July 1926 d.12 March 2000
PhD MA Cantab(1951) MB BChir(1956) MRCS LRCP(1956) MRCP(1959) MD(1961) MRCPath(1963) MRCP Edin(1964) FRSE(1968) FRCP Edin(1968) FRCP(1972) FRCPath(1972)

Gordon Whitby was professor of clinical chemistry at Edinburgh University. He was born into a distinguished academic family. His father, Sir Lionel Whitby [Munk’s Roll, Vol.V, p.444], was regius professor of physic at Cambridge University. His mother, Ethel née Murgatroyd, was a doctor. Gordon was educated at Eton and then King’s College, Cambridge, where he was awarded first class honours in both parts of the natural sciences tripos. He was then awarded an MRC scholarship to study riboflavin metabolism while working for his PhD in the biochemistry department. It was only after gaining his PhD that he turned to medicine, graduating in 1956 after completing his clinical training at the Middlesex Hospital.

After house officer posts in London, Gordon Whitby went to work at the Hammersmith Hospital in 1958, as a registrar in the chemical pathology department. A year later, he was awarded a Rockefeller travelling scholarship and spent some time in Bethesda, at the National Institutes of Health, where he studied adrenal hormone metabolism.

In 1960 he was appointed university biochemist to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, and in 1963 he was appointed to the first chair in clinical chemistry at Edinburgh University. At Edinburgh he held many prestigious offices and served on many influential committees. He was dean of the faculty of medicine twice (from 1969 to 1972 and then again from 1982 to 1986) and was vice-principal (from 1979 to 1983). He helped introduce many new, automated methods for the laboratory diagnosis of disease and developed concepts of quality control. Edinburgh was one of the first centres to introduce computing into the laboratory and Whitby was particularly active in this field. Under his leadership, the department achieved a national reputation for the quality of its research.

Outside the university, he was a trustee of the National Library of Scotland and a member of the General Medical Council.

Gordon Whitby leaves a wife, Joan, and three children – Anne, Michael and Pamela. He died from a myocardial infarction following an intestinal obstruction.

RCP editor

[Brit.med.J., 2000 320 1477; The Herald 1 April 2000: www.heraldscotland.com/sport/spl/aberdeen/gordon-whitby-1.242165; The Association of Clinical Biochemists, ACB News Issue 444 20 April 2000, p.23]

(Volume XII, page web)

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