Designatory Letters: 
MB Liverp 1950, MD 1961, MRCP Edin 1961, FRCP Edin 1971, FRCPath 1977, PhD 1994

Bill Cowan was born in Liverpool but his forebears were Lowland Scots. Initially attracted to internal medicine and registrar to Sir Cyril Clarke, he later turned to histopathology and it was perhaps his bedside training that made him very much the clinical pathologist, concerned always with the patient behind the specimen.

Although enjoying autopsy work, a period in Lauren Ackermans’s department at Barnes Hospital, St Louis, USA in 1962/3 fired an enthusiasm for surgical pathology that never left him.

He was appointed consultant pathologist to the Gateshead group of hospitals in 1965 and was an honorary lecturer in pathology at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

After retiring from his full-time work his interest focused on breast cancer and, while retaining honorary positions both at Gateshead and Newcastle, he studied screen-detected mammary carcinomas, graduating PhD in his 69th year.

Passionate both in his commitment to the NHS and in his love of Shakespeare, he wished ‘I have done the State some service’ to be his only epitaph.