WITH the death of Anne Ferguson at the tragically early age of 57, British medicine has lost a remarkable intellect and a major star in clinical research in gastroenterology.

Anne was born in Glasgow in 1941, the daughter of John and Monica Glen. She was educated at Notre Dame School and the University of Glasgow, graduating with a first class honours degree in Physiology, then MB, ChB with honours, and winning the Brunton Medal. She completed her medical training in the University Department of Medicine at the Royal Infirmary and began her research career when appointed as a lecturer in the then newly formed Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at the Western Infirmary. Her pioneering studies there with Delphine Parrott provided the ground work for her long research career in gut immunology.

In 1975 Anne was recruited to the University of Edinburgh as a senior lecturer and consultant to the Gastrointestinal Unit at the Western General Hospital, where she remained for the rest of her life, forging a dedicated team that provides world class care to the local community. She was appointed to a personal professorship in gastroenterology in 1987 and was Head of the Department of Medicine from 1991-1994. She was a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, was a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists and was honoured by election to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1990.

At the Gastrointestinal Unit, Anne developed what was her greatest professional skill, of investigating directly in her patients the concepts generated by her basic research and using the results to formulate new diagnostic methods and therapies for their benefit. Her early work in Glasgow proved that immune reactions in the gut could produce some severe enteric disease and malabsorption and her later research centred on how to prevent these unwanted reactions.

Clinical research is never easy because of ethical and logistical constraints, but owing largely to the remarkable trust she shared with her patients she was hugely successful. She provided new insights into the mechanisms responsible for Crohn's disease and coeliac disease which led to significant advances in the therapy of these conditions. Her expertise and wisdom was valued by government agencies and she served on several important advisory groups, including the Committee on Safety of Medicines, the MRC Gene Therapy Advisory Board and the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee.

Anne's other great contribution to medicine was in education, particularly in providing postgraduate research training to a large number of young doctors and scientists from all over the world. She was strongly committed to the developing world, where enteric disease is such a major cause of death. She was a consultant to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh, providing advice and training support, and this year completed a term as President of the International Society for Mucosal Immunity, during which she extended the activities of the Society into the developing world.

In her youth Anne was a competitive track athlete and a member of the Scottish women's basketball team. Through mountaineering she met her first husband, John Ferguson, a lecturer at Strathclyde University, whom she married in 1966. They had two adopted children, Kathleen and Douglas. John died in 1989 after a long struggle against cancer. Her second marriage in 1995 to Gerald Collee, Emeritus Professor of Medical Microbiology at Edinburgh University, provided Anne, for all too brief a period, with the peaceful haven and intellectual companionship she sought to complement her demanding professional life. Anne is survived by her mother, husband, and children.