General Internal Medicine
Designatory Letters: 
MB Edin 1946, MRCP Lond 1951, MRCP Glasg 1951, MD Edin 1956, MRCP Edin 1963, FRCPS Glasg 1964, DSc Glasg 1966, FRCP Edin 1965, FRCP Lond 1967, FRSE 1971

With the death of Sir Abraham Goldberg Medicine has lost one of its giants, a truly great man – physician, scientist, teacher, writer, champion of unpopular causes, and devoted family man and friend of many

He was the son of immigrant parents from Lithuania and Ukraine, was educated at George Heriot’s School, Edinburgh and Edinburgh University, graduating in 1946.

A Nuffield research fellowship enabled him to work in the department of chemical pathology in UCH Medical School, London where he acquired the scientific skills that were to serve him and so many others for the rest of his life. At that time he focussed on haem and porphyria, work that led to an Eli Lilly fellowship in the University of Utah in Salt lake City, USA. He enjoyed the work but not the inequalities he saw in that country and, in 1957, readily accepted an invitation from Professor (later Sir) Edward Wayne to lecture in the University of Glasgow.

He was soon a senior lecturer and in 1967 accepted a personal chair in the department of medicine and directorship of the Medical Research Council’s group on iron and porphyrin metabolism. In 1970 he succeeded Stanley Alstead as Regius Professor of material medica and therapeutics at Glasgow University, based at Stobhill Hospital. His final academic appointment was to the regius chair of the practice of medicine at the Western Infirmary in 1978 where one of his major tasks was the modernisation of medical undergraduate teaching. At the same time he chaired the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) in London set up not long after the thalidomide tragedy.

He received many honours in Scotland and abroad, including the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and honorary degrees. However, often espousing causes not supported by many and fiercely criticising others that he saw as unjust brought him critics as well as friends but he never faltered. To the end he remained a man of the highest principles, an example even to those with whom he disagreed. Retirement saw him nurturing his longstanding interest in history and honing his skills in writing as evidenced by many newspaper articles. Historians may regard his greatest contribution to society his energetic promotion of better understanding between those of different faiths for he had seen much bigotry in countries such as South Africa in the days of apartheid.

He was buried 50 years to the minute of his very happy marriage to Clarice who survives him with their three children and four grandchildren. We who remain honour a great physician and scientist.