Emeritus Professor Ian McIntyre CBE, PhD, FRCVS

From the West Coast of Scotland to the East Coast of Africa – A remarkable veterinary teacher, scientist and scholar.
prof_ian_mcintyre_helensburgh_hero.jpg

William Ian Mackay McIntyre was born on the 7th July, 1919, in Altnaharra, Sutherland, the son of a gamekeeper. It was the time spent walking his dogs with his father on moors of the Kimball estate in Sutherland that led to Ian’s early interest in animals and wildlife.

He was educated in Altnaharra and Golspie but unfortunately on his last day at school he suffered a road accident which led to a year in hospital with serious leg injuries. During his convalescence his father died. The estate owner supported Ian's desire to study veterinary medicine, an act of generosity which was never to be forgotten. Ian continued his studies, and proving a brilliant student, graduated BVMS from the Royal Dick Veterinary School in Edinburgh in 1944. After graduation he remained on the staff and ran the small animal clinic, writing a PhD thesis on leptospirosis in the dog. This seminal work put the features of this common and serious condition on a sound clinical base. It was during this period of employment with the Veterinary School that Ian married his first wife, Ruth Galbraith, in 1948. A marriage that would last 59 years, until Ruth’s sad passing from Parkinson’s disease on the 12th January 2007.

In 1951, Ian’s promising talent was recognised, and he was recruited by Professor William Weipers to lead the department of veterinary medicine at the Glasgow Vet School, then recently incorporated into the University of Glasgow. Ian is widely credited with greatly broadening the establishment's research and teaching methods. It was during this hugely successful period that Ian worked collaboratively with George Urquhart, Bill Mulligan, Frank Jennings and Bill Jarrett to produce Dictol, the successful vaccine against the lungworm disease in cattle. He personally carried out the final trials of the vaccine on 8,000 cattle across 200 farms in Scotland, and Dictol, prepared from live Dictyocaulus viviparous, irradiated with X-rays, still remains the only successful live metozoal vaccine available today. Ian was appointed Professor of Veterinary Medicine in 1961.

In 1963 Ian took a select team of colleagues from Glasgow to inaugurate a school of veterinary surgery at the newly established University of East Africa in Nairobi. As Dean of the Veterinary Faculty, he had to blend together a disparate group of local and international veterinarians to produce an excellent Faculty of Veterinary Medicine to cater for the mainly African student body.

The faculty was officially opened by Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta in 1966 (pictured left). His secondment finished in 1967, but the Kenya experience was the start of a lifelong involvement with Africa, its animals and diseases, most notably trypanosomiasis, the cause of sleeping sickness.

In 1968, Ian returned to Scotland to the Glasgow Veterinary School, and he and his wife Ruth, and their three sons Peter, Mike & John, moved into ‘McIntyre’, the home in Stuckenduff, Shandon, which they had planned whilst in Kenya. A naturally keen sportsman, Ian encouraged his sons to ‘take to the Clyde’ and to sail, stimulating their progress through local and national competition, and he was delighted when son Mike won a gold medal for Team GB in the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Ian served on the council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons from 1974 to 1983, during which period he was active in the successful fight against proposals to cut the number of veterinary schools in the UK. During his 9 year tenure, not one veterinary School was closed in the UK.

In the early 70’s, Ian was to rekindle his love for working in Africa, when he was invited by Sir Dawda Jawarra (a former Glasgow veterinary graduate) President of the Gambia, to identify the effects of trypanosomiasis on the local cattle. Two short trips were made in 1973 & 1974, leading to the establishment of the International Trypanotolereance Centre (ITC) in 1982. Ian’s work in Africa was formally recognised when he has awarded the CBE in 1989 in the diplomatic and overseas list for services to veterinary research in the Gambia.

Following his retirement from Glasgow University, he was the first director of ITC from 1983 to 1989. One of his proudest moments came at a symposium in 2003, the 20th anniversary of the lab, held at the ITC in Banjul. A warm tribute was paid to McIntyre by the president of the centre on behalf of the Gambian people, and the laboratory complex at Kerr Serign was named after him.

A man who produced strong emotions in most who met him, Ian was often outspoken. He told the truth as he saw it and refused to kowtow to dogma and winds of favour. Evidence of this passion was the eventual acceptance by his colleagues, after a lengthy struggle, that the way forward for the best clinical teaching was to have a lecture free final year, an innovation that proved successful.

After his final retirement in 1989, he greatly enjoyed tracking down old school friends from Altnaharra and Golspie, and touring his beloved Highlands. During this priod he devoted his life to nursing and caring for his wife, with such love and attention, often totally unsupported, as she was gripped by Parkinsons desease. In 2007, Ian married his second wife Elizabeth Hunter, and sadly died the following year at the age of 88 on 20th March 2008 at his wonderful home in Shandon.