Respiratory/Thoracic Medicine
Designatory Letters: 
MB Edin 1941, MRCP Edin 1944, FRCP Edin 1954

[Contributed by Graham Crompton]

It is likely that Ian Grant will be remembered in Edinburgh and within the international respiratory community as the quintessential iconoclast admired by some and viewed with trepidation by others. For over 30 years until 1984 Ian was consultant physician at the Edinburgh Northern General Hospital (NGH). Asthma was his major clinical interest and as the Northern was a small and somewhat isolated hospital he created its own intensive care facility. This allowed ventilation of asthmatics and subsequently longer term ventilation and care of patients with neurological problems. Another major achievement was the creation of the world’s first asthma self admission service, the published benefits of which led to national and international recognition, acceptance and replication.

The Respiratory Unit at the NGH was Ian’s pride and joy. He was immensely proud of its widespread reputation and made absolutely sure that high standards were maintained by all medical, nursing and secretarial colleagues, perhaps sometimes somewhat beyond reason. He was steadfastly loyal to those loyal to him. He maintained a cross Edinburgh rivalry with the Professorial unit which on occasions could become quite acrimonious. Controversy energised Ian and when he was not deeply involved in some external crusade his colleagues were tempted, for their own peace of mind, to suggest or invent issues in which he should become involved.

Very few, except those close to him, were aware of his unique sense of humour. His frequent sudden departures from serious meetings were precipitated by fits of the belly aching giggles which could for him become uncontainable.

He initiated, encouraged and cooperated in many research activities and was author/co-author of some 150 peer reviewed publications. He was immensely proud of his contributions to the Edinburgh medical text books, especially Davidson in which he was a chapter author in the first to the 14th editions. In all he wrote chapters in twelve medical text books and was a co-editor of Thoracic Surgical Management. He was a provocative guest lecturer in many different countries and his teaching talents were much appreciated locally.

He discovered a new disease - malt workers lung. Basic research involved a visit to most of the Highland distilleries where blood was taken from employees and samples of malt collected for mycological examination. More importantly sampling of the distilleries’ end products was undertaken and enjoyed.

Ian will always be remembered as a “man of many letters”, some published in medical journals but many more in the Scotsman. He even wrote to the Vatican to give advice about the treatment of Pope John Paul II after the attempted assassination. The confidence of the man had to be admired.

His wife of nearly 60 years, Betty, predeceased him by seven years. He leaves three children, nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren.