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Biographical entry Chisholm, Geoffrey Duncan (1931 - 1994)

CBE 1992; MRCS and FRCS 1960; MB ChB St Andrew's 1955; FRCS Edinburgh 1959; PRCS Edinburgh 1988; ChM 1965; FRCP Edinburgh 1990; FRCPS Glasgow 1990; Hon FRACS 1990; Hon FCSSA 1990; Hon FACS 1994; FRS Edinburgh 1994.

30 September 1931
Hawera, New Zealand
10 November 1994


Geoffrey Duncan Chisholm was born on 30 September 1931 at Hawera, North Island New Zealand. He was the third son of Arthur Chisholm, manager of the Meat Board, and his wife Ellen Marion, née Friston. His family had emigrated some eighty years before from Cannich, Glen Affric in the Scottish Highlands. He was educated at Scots College, Wellington, Malvern College, Worcester, and St Andrew's University, graduating in medicine in 1955. His house posts, under Sir Donald Douglas, were at United Dundee Hospitals, and his registrarships in general surgery were at the London, Connaught and Hammersmith Hospitals, at the latter with Professor Ian Aird. In 1961 he was awarded the British Postgraduate Federation Travelling Fellowship to Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, working with W W Scott. He returned to the Hammersmith as senior registrar in urology to Ralph Shackman. In 1967 he was appointed consultant and lecturer to the Royal Postgraduate Medical School and later to St Peter's Hospital. Thus began a fruitful decade in the field of organ preservation and transplantation, maintaining the pioneering role that Hammersmith had played in the subject.

In 1977, on the retirement of Sir Michael Woodruff, he was invited to take the Chair in Edinburgh, consultant urologist to the Western General Hospital and Director of the Nuffield Transplant Unit. His triple role of undergraduate Professor, director of research and international urologist, if it did not stretch his intellect most certainly did his time. One reflects on the corpus of writing with wonder and admiration: some four hundred contributions in urology centred on obstructive uropathy, prostate cancer and the use of isotopes and immunology in transplantation. In addition, he held the joint editorship with Sir David Innes Williams of the Scientific Foundations of Urology, and from 1977 to 1993 was editor of the British Journal of Urology. To serve was of his nature and he was an ever-willing Officer and President of several Associations, the more prominent being the British Association of Urological Surgeons 1986-88; the European Society for Urological Oncology and Endocrinology 1984-5; Section of Urology, Royal Society of Medicine and the Scottish Urological Society 1990-92. He was elected to the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1984 and was supremely honoured to become its President from 1988 to 1991. He led his College with purpose, distinction and style and continued in harness as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Higher Surgical Training for a further three years.

A polished and always well-prepared lecturer, he was in demand on the world stage and was awarded many honours, including the St Peter's Medal from the BAUS, the Silver Medal of the Danish Surgical Society, the Willy Gregoir Medal from the EAU and in his last year the Bodo Van Garelts Memorial Lecture in Stockholm. In 1992 his was a worthy appointment to Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He had a delightful personality and was a popular man both with colleagues and patients. His rapid rise in urology was due to outstanding ability matched with integrity and endless energy. He died from that rare tumour, a carcinoid, at the apex of his career, like a bright firework extinguished in flight but leaving a trail of enduring achievement. He married in 1962 Angela, née Holden, and they had two sons, Andrew and Ian, all of whom survived him when he died on 10 November 1994, aged 63.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 5 December 1994, with portrait; BMJ 1994 309 1509, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England