Lives of the fellows

Alister James Victor Cameron

b.11 September 1916 d.2 January 1980
MA Glasg(1936) MB ChB(1940) FRFPS Glasg(1942) MRCP(1944) MD(1952) FRCPG(1964) FRCP(1964)

Alister Cameron was born at Stenhousemuir, Stirlingshire, and brought up in Clydebank. His father, a cost accountant, was also called Alister James Victor Cameron, and his mother, Mary, was the daughter of John Adam, a foreman iron grinder. He was educated at Clydebank High School, where he was dux medallist, and obtained a bursary to Glasgow University, where he graduated MA in the humanities in 1936. He then transferred to the faculty of medicine on a Stewart bursary and graduated MB ChB in 1940, obtaining prizes in clinical medicine and surgery.

After resident appointments in the Western and Royal Infirmaries, he joined the EMS and was appointed medical registrar at Gartloch Emergency Hospital, Glasgow, in 1942, and later became assistant physician to the outpatient department. In 1945 he was appointed acting physician in charge of the medical unit at Ballochmyle Hospital, Ayrshire.

Glasgow University awarded him the Christina Hansen research scholarship in medicine in 1946, when he started his research in cardiology, particularly vector cardiography, of which he was a pioneer, in the department of JW Wright. In 1947 he was appointed assistant physician to the outpatient department of Glasgow Royal Infirmary, and proceeded MD in 1952. At the end of this year he spent four months in France at the Clinique Cardiologique de la Faculté de Médecine, University of Paris, under the direction of E Donzelot, where he studied cardiac electrophysiology with particular reference to vector cardiography.

This was an extremely happy period of his life: his wife, Janet, whom he had married in 1949, was a medical graduate of Edinburgh University and she was able to join him in Paris for the latter part of his visit. She was the daughter of Hugh Bryden Murdoch, a science teacher at Trinity Academy, Edinburgh, who later became headmaster of the David Kilpatrick Secondary School, Edinburgh.

In 1953 Alister became consultant cardiologist to the Western Infirmary, a post he held until his death. During this period he built up the department of cardiology and planned its further development in phase one of the Western Infirmary. His work in the field of vector cardiography was internationally recognized, and demonstrated his ability in mathematics and statistical analysis. Early in the 1960s he carried out an excellent controlled clinical trial of hyperbaric oxygen in acute myocardial infarction. In the last 25 years of his life it became clear that his main strength was in clinical and teaching aspects of cardiology.

He was a member of the British Cardiac Society, and of the first European Congress in Cardiology in 1952; a member of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland; a fellow of the RSM, a member of the International Society of Internal Medicine, the Scottish Society of Physicians, the Scottish Society for Experimental Medicine and the Royal Medico-Chirurgical Society of Glasgow. He was elected a fellow of the College, and of the Glasgow College, in 1964.

Alister Cameron was a gentle and modest man. He was also an excellent raconteur, which made him a popular student and postgraduate teacher, and a natural scholar. He never lost his love for Latin and Greek, and his interests included Russian literature and East European culture. He travelled widely in Europe, America and Canada, and it was after a trip to Eastern Europe that he took up the study of Russian. He also had a great love for the poetry and history of his native land, and a deep appreciation of music which was shared by his wife and his daughter.

Until the onset of his illness in 1970 he also enjoyed golf and tennis. Despite indifferent health following the first attack of myocardial infarction, he continued to work. After the tragic loss of his wife in 1976 he sublimated his intense grief in his work for the medical student organizations in the university, and in 1977 he became president of the student Medico-Chirurgical Society in which he took a very active interest. He was a man who made close and lasting bonds with friends and colleagues, and despite the many vicissitudes of his later years he remained cheerful, and always thoughtful of others.

Sir Abraham Goldberg

[Brit.med.J., 1980, 280, 324, 728]

(Volume VII, page 82)

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