Lives of the fellows

Patrick John Collard

b.22 April 1920 d.17 June 1989
MRCS LRCP(1942) MB BS Lond(1942) MRCP(1943) MD(1951) MSc Manch(1966) FRCP(1972)

Born in Southampton, the son of an electrical engineer, Patrick Collard was educated at Ottershaw College and St Bartholomew’s Hospital, where he graduated in 1942. He sat the examination for membership of the College that same year, but failed - he thought this was because he was far too young; the next year he was successful although he always believed that his answers were not as good.

After house jobs, during which he developed an interest in neurology, he was called up into the RAMC and served until 1948; he was graded a specialist in neurology and attained the rank of major. He was particularly successful in treating conversion paralysis, using hypnosis to get some 50% of patients to recover - though he said that half of these later relapsed. On demobilization he was appointed registrar at Westminster Hospital and two years later applied for a lectureship in bacteriology at Guy’s Hospital where he spent the next four years, first as lecturer and then as senior lecturer.

In 1954 Collard was appointed to the chair of bacteriology at University College, Ibadan, Nigeria. He was their first professor of bacteriology and, starting almost from scratch, he built up a thriving department; carrying out valuable work himself - especially in the fields of serological epidemiology, brucellosis, salmonellosis and shigellosis. He was also consultant bacteriologist to the University Hospital there, and in 1958 was appointed adviser on industrial microbiology to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry at Lagos.

In 1962 he returned to England as professor of bacteriology and virology at Manchester University, succeeding H B Maitland. He inherited an already distinguished and well established department and set to work to build it into one of the largest microbiology departments in the country. He believed strongly that medical microbiology should not be divorced from other branches of microbiology. During his time at Manchester the department moved twice, into new buildings, which inevitably reduced momentum and involved an enormous amount of planning and administration. But the teaching progamme was never allowed to suffer and the output of research, although reduced on each occasion for a while, was maintained at a creditable level.

He did all he could to sustain and promote the long-established postgraduate diploma in bacteriology and his course became famous, attracting a large number of students from all over the world to take the ‘Dp Bact’, as did entrants to the Public Health Laboratory Service and other UK postgraduates; many owe their subsequent careers to him. His interests were widespread and his own research ranged from studies of bacterial growth, especially in mixed cultures, to the sterilization of dental hand pieces.

Collard was an enthusiastic teacher and gave his full support to the introduction of the Honours BSc course in microbiology, developing and expanding the teaching in the faculty of medicine. Together with Alastair Ironside and, later, Bibhat Mandal and William Kershaw, he developed undergraduate and postgraduate teaching at the communicable disease unit at Monsall Hospital. The Wednesday lunchtime sessions for community physicians will be especially remembered.

Patrick’s concern for his students - especially those from overseas -was manifest in many ways, most notably in his habit of holding ‘open house’ at his flat on Wednesdays in term-time. Here students could meet informally, discuss almost anything, drink coffee, play chess, and sample his homemade wines. Although it was known that he did not himself use animals in his research, it was not generally known that he had for many years supported FRAME, the charity which works for the replacement of animals in medical experiments. He also felt strongly about the neglect and ill-treatment of pets, particularly dogs.

He was married twice, first in 1948 to Jessie Flora Robertson and subsequently, in 1957, to Kathleen Sarginson. There were four children, a son and a daughter of each marriage.

Patrick Collard was a great raconteur, a bon viveur and a scholar. He was also a kind and sympathetic person; from 1973-80 he served as a magistrate on the Manchester bench where, in the words of a colleague, ‘ ... he brought knowledge and insight to the bench as well as qualities of compassion and understanding.’ He was particularly proud of the way he treated defendants who had fallen foul of loan sharks; prescribing a regimen of repayment which enabled justice to be seen to be done - but the sharks would probably have died of old age before they got their money back.

He was widely read in history, philosophy, poetry, literature and Arabic. He was an active supporter of the Liberal Party and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. At the time of his death he was putting the final touches to a mathematical model of bacterial growth, which he was planning to submit to the Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology, and translating the canons of Ib’n Sina (Avicenna) which had not previously been translated direct from Arabic to English; existing versions having come via classical Greek and he believed them to be corrupted. His death followed a distressing illness which involved several laparotomies.

T S L Beswick

[Brit.med.J., 1969,299,175; Times, 11 July 1989;The Independent, 19 June 1969]

(Volume IX, page 92)

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