Obituary: Professor Ainsley Iggo

Tributes have been paid to an Edinburgh University professor who became the world’s leading authority on sensation and pain.

Born in Napier, New Zealand, in 1924, Professor Ainsley Iggo moved to Scotland more than 60 years ago and played a key role in building the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at Edinburgh University into an internationally recognised centre of research excellence.

Prof Iggo moved to Edinburgh in 1954, where he began as a lecturer in physiology at the Medical School of Edinburgh University, before becoming the chair and professor of veterinary physiology at what is popularly known as the Dick Vet in 1962.

He later became dean of the Dick Vet, and remained as professor emeritus of veterinary physiology until his recent death.

He was also a fellow of the Royal Society of London (FRS) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE), Scotland’s national academy of science and letters.

In 1973, he co-founded and was later to become president (1981-84) of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), the world’s largest multi-disciplinary organisation specialising in pain research, control and treatment for both animals and humans.

During his time as IASP president he organised the third World Congress of Pain in Edinburgh, and helped to launch the IASP’s journal, Pain.

He also went on to create an internationally respected sensory physiology group in Edinburgh, where he trained several of the world’s leading neurophysiologists.

As well as holding the titles FRS and FRSE, he was an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and was awarded several honorary degrees from universities around the world.

These included one from Edinburgh University in 1993, which is believed to be the first awarded by the university to a former faculty member in recognition of his work there.

In 1987, his research revealed the extraordinary discovery that the Australian duck-billed platypus used receptors in its bill to catch food by detecting electric currents in the water.

President-elect of IASP, Fernando Cervero spoke of Prof Iggo’s passing in the journal Pain.

He wrote: “He had many close and dear friends among the pioneers of pain research.

“He created a school of pain researchers who continue his work to this day by upholding the high technical and scientific standards of Ainsley Iggo’s work.”

Away from work, Prof Iggo’s interests were Mozart, gardening and beekeeping.

He died peacefully at his home in Edinburgh last month, aged 87.

He is survived by his wife, Betty, sons Neil, Jonathan and Richard, and grandchildren Julia and Alex.