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March 2007

W. Ian McDonald, MB, ChB, PhD (1933-2006): The Multiple Sclerosis Physician-Scientist of the 20th Century

Arch Neurol. 2007;64(3):452-454. doi:10.1001/archneur.64.3.452

On December 13, 2006, the neurology community lost one of its most influential physician-scientists, W. Ian McDonald, MB, ChB, PhD. Dr McDonald's name has become recognized around the world for his seminal insights into the underpinnings of multiple sclerosis (MS) and for the application of novel technologies to reveal the diagnosis of this formidably challenging disorder of the brain and spinal cord.

Ian McDonald was a native of New Zealand, where he obtained his medical school training and a doctorate at the University of Otago. His graduate work focused on the pathophysiology of axonal demyelination; the functional effects and mechanisms of demyelination and remyelination were topics that remained the focus of his entire professional career. He moved to London, England, in 1963 and continued his clinical training at Queen Square between 1963 and 1966, with a year serving as a research fellow to Derek Denny-Brown, MD, DPhil, FRCP, at Harvard University (1965-1966). He became a consultant neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in 1966 and professor of clinical neurology at the Institute of Neurology at London University in 1974; he continued in these posts until his retirement in 1998.