William Ian McDonald

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 18 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:160
  1. Caroline Richmond

    Neurologist who refined the diagnosis and understanding of multiple sclerosis

    William Ian McDonald (“Ian”) greatly advanced knowledge of multiple sclerosis and was also an expert in neuro-ophthalmology and, in retirement, an outstanding Harveian librarian at the Royal College of Physicians.

    He transformed the study of multiple sclerosis from a series of disjointed approaches to a coherent and scientific entity, and the current diagnostic criteria are called the McDonald criteria. He was one of the few neurologists to do substantial laboratory research. When magnetic imaging was introduced he quickly recognised its potential value in diagnosis, monitoring, and establishing the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis. He carried out studies that showed his hunch was correct, and, thanks to him, imaging is now used to speed up the monitoring of clinical trials. He was a great mentor and an excellent lecturer.

    Ian was born into a Presbyterian family in Wellington, New Zealand, the son of an insurance manager. From St Andrew's College he went to Otago University, earning a BMedSci in 1955 and qualifying MBChB in 1957 with distinctions in pharmacology, microbiology, medicine, and gynaecology. After house jobs in Dunedin Hospital he spent three years, from 1959 …

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