Lives of the fellows

Ian Barnewell Hales

b.18 May 1926 d.14 July 2012
MB BS Sydney(1950) FRCP(1977) MD FRACP FRCP Edin

Ian Hales was the inaugural director of the department of nuclear medicine and endocrinology at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, Australia, and subsequently head of the department of endocrinology. He had a special interest in thyroid physiology and disease.

Ian was born in Brewarrina, in rural New South Wales, to Geoffrey Barnewall Hales, a physician, and Nina Dalrymple. He was educated at Sydney Grammar School and started the medical course at the University of Sydney in 1943. His studies were interrupted by service in the Royal Australian Navy, but he resumed his course in 1946 and graduated in 1950.

Ian was a resident medical officer and a medical registrar at Royal North Shore Hospital from 1950 to 1954. He then went to London, where he was a medical registrar at Paddington General Hospital. In 1957 he was awarded a Leverhulme research fellowship and studied iodinated compounds with Russell Fraser [Munk’s Roll, Vol.X, p.149] at the Postgraduate Medical School of London, at Hammersmith, where he first used iodine-131 as a tracer in biochemical studies of thyroid breakdown products. From 1958 to 1959 he was a Wellcome travelling fellow at Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and worked with Brown Dobyns on thyroid iodine studies, including in vivo studies of thyroxine metabolism in various thyroid states. He was also introduced to thyroid scanning and its role in diagnosis.

On his return to Royal North Shore Hospital, he worked as a fellow in endocrinology with Frank Rundle, doing detailed statistical studies on iodine metabolism, and, with Hal Oddie, introduced computer-based diagnostic criteria. From 1961 to 1971 he was physician in charge of the thyroid investigation clinic.

The extension of the use of radioisotopes into a wide range of diagnostic applications other than thyroid disease led to the formation of nuclear medicine as a specialty and, in 1971, he was appointed director of nuclear medicine and endocrinology. He relinquished his role in nuclear medicine in 1986 and became head of the department of endocrinology at Royal North Shore Hospital, a position he retained until his retirement in 1991.

Ian maintained his research interest in iodine metabolism and thyroid disease and was involved in the development of a formal protocol for prospective management of thyroid cancer.

Ian had an apparently brusque manner, which concealed an iconoclastic sense of humour. He was dedicated to the provision of high quality patient services and to the ongoing development of his department. He encouraged and mentored a number of young graduates in both nuclear medicine and endocrinology.

Ian had a lifelong interest in sports, with heavy involvement in surf lifesaving, rugby, sailing, golf and bowls. The nickname ‘Nugget’, by which he was almost universally known, dated from his days playing first grade rugby. Following his retirement he remained active in church and community affairs, and continued with sports, mainly golf and bowls.

Ian was survived by his wife Dorothy (née Gors), whom he married in 1950, and their children, Susan, Jennie and Geoffrey.

Errol Wilmshurst

(Volume XII, page web)

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