Obituary: Robin Russell, internationally recognised consultant physician and gastroenterologist

Robin Irvine Russell, Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist. Born: 21 December 1936. Died 21 November 2018

Robin Russell

Robin Irvine Russell, an internationally recognised consultant physician and gastroenterologist, head of department of gastroenterology at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, and Honorary Professor at the University of Glasgow, passed away peacefully at The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow on 21 November 2018, aged 81 years.

Born in Wishaw, Lanarkshire on 21 December 1936, Robin became dux of Wishaw High School before graduating as a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery in 1960, a Doctor of Medicine in 1972, and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1976, all from the University of Glasgow.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

From 1966 to 1968, Robin was a Member of the Scientific and Medical Staff at the Medical Research Council’s Gastroenterology Unit in London. From 1968 to 1970, he was a Lecturer in Medicine at the University of Glasgow. In 1970, aged only 33 years, Robin was appointed consultant physician and gastroenterologist and head of the department of gastroenterology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Regarded as a wonderful role model by young clinicians, Robin encouraged academic and research ambitions in all trainees. Under his leadership, the department quickly developed active research programmes and attracted excellent trainees, with outstanding registrars and senior registrars going on to populate many of the consultant posts across Scotland and the UK.

Robin achieved international acclaim for his research activities at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, particularly in the areas of inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease and nutrition. When the development of fibre-optic gastrointestinal endoscopy brought new opportunities for investigation, he promptly established an Endoscopy Unit that soon became a leading training centre in the UK. Robin also recognised the importance of good nutrition to the wellbeing of patients and set up a unit providing dietary expertise, together with enteral tube feeding and intravenous nutrition if required.

Ahead of his time, Robin created effective multidisciplinary teams involving physicians, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists and dietitians to look after complex patients. He always had time to support the many medical, nursing and ancillary staff who made up these clinical teams.

Robin was the author of 325 original papers, two books and over 20 chapters and presented well over 250 guest lectures at meetings and conferences around the world. He was a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

He was also a Member of the Association of Physicians, the British Society of Gastroenterology, and the American Gastroenterological Association. For several years, he served as International Chair and Advisor in Research Development in Gastroenterology for the National Institutes of Health in Washington, USA, as well as serving as editor of the Current Opinion in Gastroenterology.

Surprisingly, Robin had time for golf. He played regularly at Pollok Golf Club and was a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews. He also enjoyed music and literature.

A truly inspirational academic and clinician, Robin will be sadly missed by his friends and colleagues.

Robin is survived by his wife, Ann, son-in-law, Simon, and granddaughter, Zoe, and was the beloved dad of the late Bruce and the late Kara.

Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak & 
Professor Peter Mills