Search

Obituary: Renowned ‘radical’ editor of The Lancet Dr Ian Douglas-Wilson dies aged 101

14:00 25 October 2013

Dr Ian Dougas-Wilson with wife Betty in Venice during the 1950s

Dr Ian Dougas-Wilson with wife Betty in Venice during the 1950s

Archant

A former editor of one of the world’s oldest and most respected medical journals, who was among the first group of medics to enter and liberate the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during the Second World War, has died aged 101.

Dr Ian Douglas-Wilson, who was born in 1912 and died at Magnolia Court Care Home, in Granville Road, Childs Hill, on October 15, was editor of The Lancet for 12 years and gained a strong reputation as a radical and fearless leader of the journal.

Raised in Harrogate, Yorkshire, by his doctor father and mother, he began an extraordinary and varied career in medicine after graduating from Edinburgh University.

A short period working in Dublin helping to deliver newborns was followed by a stint as a GP in Pembrokeshire, but his career took a life-changing shift after he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps following the outbreak of the Second World War.

His work treating servicemen who suffered from the effects of what is now termed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) saw him become one of the first to publish a paper on the impact of war and conflict on mental health.

In April 1945 he became one of the first medics to enter the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany when it was liberated by British troops.

Upon entering he and fellow soldiers discovered 53,000 prisoners inside, most of them half-starved and seriously ill, and some 13,000 unburied corpses.

His son, David Wilson, says the ordeal stayed with him his whole life. “He used to talk about it at great length to us,” he said.

A universal social consciousness saw Dr Douglas-Wilson house German prisoners of war on his return at Christmas and also open his home to Hungarian refugees fleeing Soviet oppression during the 1950s.

His principled approach to life extended throughout his 30-year career and in his work for The Lancet.

After rising up the ranks he followed a long tradition of editors who never shied from challenging the norm. Despite retiring early and moving to Cricklewood to take care of his poorly wife, his legacy at the journal remains.

Staff and readers remember his editorship for its strong support for osteopathy, for his unflinching support of universal care and the NHS and for his ground-breaking criticism of the “corrupt and 
biased” peer-review system.

“He was one of the great editors of The Lancet,” said current editor Dr Richard Horton. “He believed in the power of science to change not only lives, but also whole societies, and he saw medicine as a political endeavour, as well as a scientific challenge.

“He fearlessly championed the interests of the citizen over the state and his flash of passion was contagious. How we need the likes of Ian Douglas-Wilson today.”

He is survived by his son, David, two daughters, Joanna and Liz, seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

18:35
Geography teacher Kato Harris wept as a jury cleared him of all charges

A Geography teacher has told of the “massive stress” of being accused of repeatedly raping a 14-year-old pupil in the classroom of his Camden school.

17:45
Nearly 4,000 pupils were excluded for reasons including racist abuse and sexual misconduct across Camden, Haringey and Barnet. Picture: PA

Racist abuse, sexual misconduct and drug and alcohol offences – these are some of the reasons why nearly 4,000 Camden, Haringey and Barnet pupils were excluded from schools last year.

17:37
Kato Harris, has been cleared of  three counts of rape

A geography teacher wept today after a jury took just 26 minutes to clear him of repeatedly raping a pupil in a classroom at a Camden school.

13:19
Omar Bartocci, 13,  has been found safe and well after going missing last Wednesday

A 13-year-old junior rugby player has been found “safe and well.” after going missing for five days.

15:45
Islington Square Show Apartment

Interior designers Amos and Amos have created a hyper local show home featuring only furniture and accessories they sourced from shops on Upper Street

Golders Green station was evacuated after security alert  Pic credit: @im725555

Golders Green station was evacuated by police at around 7am this morning after a vehicle abandoned in the car park caused a security alert.

Saturday, July 23, 2016
Tracey Palmer, Macmillan information and support manager at The Whittington Hospital, and Angel Bellot, the hospital's PALS and complaints manager (Picture: Eve Harris)

Two brave Whittington workers will swap the wards for the sky (and then, hopefully, the ground) when they jump out of a plane for charity this weekend.

Saturday, July 23, 2016
Members of Power up North London, Ian Grant,Nikki Brain,Vijay Bhopal & Ben Pearce,pictured at St Anne's Church Highgate where they have been given permission to install Solar Panels on the roof. Photo: Nigel Sutton

A Grade II-listed church in Highgate will open up to rays of light above, after a community group won planning permission for solar panels to be installed on the slope of its roof

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now