Lives of the fellows

Robert Nicol Traquair Thin

b.21 September 1935 d.16 July 2010
OBE(1995) MB ChB Edin(1959) MRCP Edin(1964) MD(1968) FRCP Edin(1973) FRCP(1988)

Robert Nicol Traquair Thin (‘Nicol’) was a consultant genitourinary physician at St Thomas’ Hospital, London and an oarsman of international standing. Born in Edinburgh, he was the son of Robert Traquair Thin, a GP, and his wife, Annie Dempster. He came from a distinguished medical family; his maternal grandfather was an eye surgeon and his paternal grandfather, Robert, was the first GP to be appointed president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. After attending Loretto School in Musselburgh, he studied medicine at Edinburgh University and qualified in 1959, doing house jobs at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (ERI), City Hospital and the Eastern General Hospital.

In 1964 he enlisted in RAMC to do his National Service. He served in Malaya, Singapore and the UK, gaining his MRCP and MD and changing from his original specialism of chest medicine to venereology in 1968. Demobilised with the rank of major three years later, after a brief return to the ERI, he was appointed consultant venereologist at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and, in 1974, also became honorary senior lecturer at the Institute of Urology. Following his time at Bart’s, he joined the staff of St Thomas’ Hospital as a consultant genitourinary physician in 1982 and remained there for 20 years until his retirement in 2002.

Highly active in his field, he was chair of the Association for Genitourinary Medicine, assistant secretary, president (in 1987) and a council member of 27 years standing of the Medical Society for the Study of Venereal Diseases and, for 15 years, personal advisor in genitourinary medicine to the chief medical officer during the HIV epidemic. The first director of research at Guy’s and St Thomas’, he also chaired the Public Health Laboratory Service’s national ethics committee. For many years he was the editor of the British Journal of Venereal Diseases (now called Sexually Transmitted Infections) and specialty advisor to the director general of the RAMC for 20 years. He was also a consultant to the Royal Commission on Consultant Workload. In 1995 he was awarded the OBE.

In his youth he excelled at rowing and was a member of the Scottish team at the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff. President of his university boat club and the Alexandra Boat Club, he retained his interest in the sport and would host convivial trips to the Henley Royal Regatta. He also remained an enthusiastic supporter of the Scottish rugby team. His love of music had begun at school when, undaunted by being one of the smallest boys in his year, he played the double bass in the school orchestra. He also enjoyed hill walking, visiting National Trust properties, ornithology, and reading. An expert on wines, he was able to extend his knowledge when his older son moved to South Africa and again when both sons moved to different parts of Australia.

In 1962 he married Agnes Ann (‘Ann’) and they had two sons, Sandy and Iain. He continued his consultancy and charitable work all his life and, the year before he died, was indignant that the Army turned down his offer to help in Afghanistan. When he died Ann survived him, together with their sons and numerous grandchildren.

RCP editor

[Royal College of Physicans of Edinburgh obituaries www.rcpe.ac.uk/obituary/dr-robert-nicol-traquair-thin-obe-frcp-edin; The Scotsman www.scotsman.com/news/obituaries/obituary-dr-nicol-thin-obe-medical-specialist-and-old-lorettonian-who-represented-scotland-at-rowing-1-820990; BMJ 2011 342 2068 www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d2068 - all accessed 30 April 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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