Obituary: Dugald Gardner, respected pathologist and conservator of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

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Dugald Lindsay Gardner FRCPath, FRCP, FRCPEd, FRCSEd, pathologist, research scientist and author. 
Born: 30 May,1924 in London. Died 22 March 2019 in Edinburgh, aged 94

Dugald Gardner’s interest in pathology could probably be traced back to boyhood when a present of a microscope appears to have kick-started his interest in lenses.

The optical instrument came from one of his father’s friends – a pathologist – and since his youth he had been fascinated by lenses and cameras.

Later, an inspirational chemistry teacher fuelled his love of laboratoary work and, as he explained in his autobiography: “From my earliest moments as a medical student, I instinctively sought explanations for the diseases I saw and reasons for the suffering that patients endured.”

He went on to become one of his generation’s most esteemed pathologists and in retirement was the conservator of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSE).

The son of GP Dr Thomas Gardner and his wife Marjorie, he was born in Putney but educated at St Wilfred’s Primary and Brighton Grammar Schools, when his father had a private practice in the seaside resort.

As a teenager he moved in 1937 to Edinburgh’s Loretto School and then went to Clare College, Cambridge University to read Medicine before returning to north to Edinburgh Medical School to complete his degree. He graduated in 1948, the same year that the NHS was established.

Having been a student during the Second World War, he did his National Service with the British Army of the Rhine, serving as a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Hamburg, Oldenburg and RAF Rinteln, by which time he had already become a member of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh.

Back in Britain, in 1952 he became a junior assistant clinical pathologist to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, under Professor Henry Roy Dean, his pathology teacher when he was a student.

A couple of years later he obtained a research fellowship in the rheumatic diseases unit of the Northern General Hospital, Edinburgh, a move that led to his continued interest in this field and specialism in internal medicine.

He worked at the University of Edinburgh’s department of pathology until 1966, initially as a research fellow, then as a lecturer and later as senior lecturer and honorary consultant in pathology. His time there was punctuated by a year at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, on a Nuffield Scholarship where he did research on high blood pressure.

When the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology was established in London in 1966 he became its first director and five years later moved to Belfast as Musgrave professor of pathology and director of the Institute of Pathology at Queen’s University.

There he was also consultant pathologist to the Royal Victoria, the Mater Infirmorum and the Children’s Hospitals.

A further move took him to Manchester, where he was professor of histopathology and honorary consultant pathologist to South Manchester Health Authority, working in the city until retirement in 1988.

His career had spanned 32 years, encompassing research, teaching and diagnostic pathology and a proliferation of some 200 papers, mostly focusing on diseases of bone and connective tissue.

In addition to his autobiography, My Path to Pathology: By Rivers, Lakes, and Seas, books which he either wrote or co-authored include: Pathology of the Connective Tissue Diseases; The Pathology of Rheumatoid Arthri­tis; Human Histology; Pathological Basis of the Connective Tissue Diseases; Pathology for Surgeons in Training (with DEF Tweedle) and Surgeon, Scientist, Soldier: The Life and Times of Henry Wade, 1876-1955.

The latter was published during his time as RCSE conservator, from 1990 to 1999, when he also wrote papers on some of his conservator predecessors including John Goodsir, James, Pettigrew and William Sanders

In addition to his writing, interests included reading, photography, stamp collecting, golf and walking. He also loved music and was an accomplished pianist with a good baritone voice.

He had been married to his wife Helen, a nurse, for 62 years until her death in 2012. Predeceased by their son Philip, he is survived by their remaining children Rosalind, Iain and David, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

ALISON SHAW