Obituary: Professor Alan Lendrum
Saturday 22 January 1994
ALAN LENDRUM's main contributions to the scientific study of disease were the numerous advances he made on processing and staining tissues from operations and post-mortems. By painstaking research on a wide range of dyes, he devised ways of identifying different types of cells and related structures. These methods enabled him to interpret more clearly the changes in blood vessels, of kidneys and other organs, from patients with high blood pressure and with diabetes. They also led to research by his assistants on obstetric, cardiac, pulminary, intestinal and bone-marrow pathology.
Lendrum was Professor Emeritus of Pathology at Dundee University. A son of the manse, he was born at Kirkliston, Lothian, in 1906, of a distinguished family from Aberdeenshire and Angus; he was a great-grandson of Thomas Guthrie, the philanthropist. He was Professor of Pathology at St Andrews from 1947 to 1967 and at Dundee from 1967 to 1972.
A graduate of Glasgow University, Lendrum was educated at Glasgow High School and Ardross Academy and had postgraduate training at the Western Infirmary, Glasgow, under Sir Robert Muir, father of Scottish pathology. He lectured in Glasgow and was OC Medical Unit Senior Training Corps before going to Dundee. He was a founder fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists and Associate of the Royal Photographic Society.
Lendrum was a generous and genial chief, open to access by juniors and ready to debate on any subject, not necessarily medical. He was an honorary member of the Dialectic Society of Glasgow University. Indeed his quick repartee was not always appreciated by more pompous professorial colleagues.
His intense interest in technical matters led to a happy relationship with non-medical staff and to friendships unharmed by political struggles which plagued other hospital laboratories. This mutual respect led to Lendrum's honorary membership and presidency of the Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences. The artistry which he showed in staining methods was enhanced by a flair for meticulous photography and elegant writing.
Lendrum's work was well recognised overseas: he was Visiting Professor at Yale in 1960 and an honorary member of Societies of Pathology in the Netherlands and Argentina. He made major contributions to two books - Recent Advances in Clinical Pathology (1948) and Trends in Clinical Pathology (1969) - and wrote many other scientific papers.
Lendrum's holidays were often spent painting in the West Highlands; he was an accomplished artist and, from 1975 to 1977, chairman of the governors of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee. He also played the piano, sang in the church choir and was a kirk elder for over 40 years.
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