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George P. McNicol
MBChB, MD (Glas), PhD (Glas), FRFPS Glas, FRCP Ed, FRCP Glas, MD, FRCPath, FRCP Lond, Hon FACP

Colleagues will be sorry to learn of the death, on 28 July, of George P McNicol, former Professor of Medicine and Head of the University Department of Medicine at the General Infirmary, Leeds.

Born and educated in Glasgow, George McNicol studied medicine at Glasgow University, where he proved an outstanding student, winning the Bellhouston medal and the prize for the best contribution to University debates (1951-2). He worked as a House Surgeon, House Physician and Registrar in Glasgow (Western Infirmary and Stobhill General Hospital) as well as spending two years as a Regimental Medical Officer before returning to academia as a Harkness Fellow of the Commonwealth Fund in the Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University St Louis, and then gaining a PhD from Glasgow in 1965.

His early, and very dynamic, academic career was spent largely in Glasgow, with a year’s secondment as a Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Physician at the Mekerere University College Medical School, Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi. He and his wife Susan moved their young family to Leeds in 1971 when George took up the post of Professor and Head of the Department of Medicine, on the retirement of Professor Sir Ronald Tunbridge.

It was to prove an astute appointment. An energetic and purposeful leader, George was by this time an internationally renowned haematologist. He continued to pursue his research interests with vigour, publishing widely throughout his time at Leeds, and was in great demand both as a research supervisor and as an external examiner for undergraduates and postgraduates. He was a significant national figure, as a member, and subsequent Chair, of many NHS and government bodies, and travelled widely throughout Europe, Africa, the USA and Russia to deliver lectures and undertake visiting and honorary placements. Possessed of great personal charm as well as an enviable capacity for hard work, George had the gift of concision and of felicity of expression, and was an excellent and natural negotiator, balancing the competing tensions of a busy and expanding department and commanding great loyalty from his colleagues. He will be remembered with enormous respect for his contribution to his discipline and the University, and with real warmth for his sensitivity and wit.

George left Leeds in 1981 in order to take up appointment as a highly effective Principal and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Aberdeen, later becoming the joint president of the European Union Standing Committee on medical training (1989–1992). He was awarded the CBE in 1991.

He is survived by his wife Susan; their children, Martin, Susie and Anne; and four grandchildren.