ITIS often said that presentday medicine lacks characters because of the constraints of political correctness, threats of litigation and a perceived need for conformity. Dr Gerry Crean was an outstanding exception to this generalisation. He rose to the top of his profession as a consultant physician and gastro-enterologist but throughout his career he maintained a highly original style and flair which set him apart. In addition to his medical practice he achieved further renown as a founder member and regular solo player with the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra.

Gerry Crean was born in County Wexford, the third of four surviving children of two school teachers. His father was a second cousin of Tom Crean, the Antarctic explorer who survived the expeditions of Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton.

His early studies were interrupted by tuberculosis but after recovery he completed medical studies and graduated at University College, Dublin, in 1952.

He excelled academically and was top student in his year with a first class honours degree and multiple prizes and medals. He also captained the UCD golf team and the all Ireland medical students golf team in 1950. After house officer posts in Dublin, Gerry moved to the department of clinical medicine in Edinburgh University, led at that time by Sir Stanley Davidson.

As a medical speciality, gastroenterology was in its infancy and one of the first dedicated units in the country had been established at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital under the direction of Professor Wilfred Card. Gerry joined this team and began collaboration with Card which was to last more than 30 years in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Between them they produced a large number of high-quality research publications which have influenced other researchers and contributed directly and positively to the management of peptic ulcer and other causes of dyspepsia.

The original contributions of Gerry Crean were initially in the field of gastric secretion and the physiology of the mucosal cells of the stomach in health and disease. The effects of pregnancy, body weight and various hormonal changes on gastric physiology formed the subject of his successful PhD thesis in 1965.

In 1967 he took up an appointment as consultant physician in the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow and turned his attention to two main areas of gastrointestinal research. Wilfred Card had also migrated to Glasgow and between them they established the Diagnostic Methodology Research Unit with the aim of developing a diagnostic decision making system in dyspepsia. The eminence of Gerry Crean in his speciality was recognised by his peers by his election as president of the British Society of Gastroenterology in 1986 and in America by his election as an honorary fellow of the American Society of Gastroenterology.

To those who knew him well Gerry will be remembered for his personal qualities. His considerable intellect was accompanied by great charm and a wit that endeared him to colleagues and friends. He understood the suffering of patients and this was appreciated by the many who benefited from his immense knowledge of his subject coupled to these personal qualities.

His extrovert personality sometimes concealed a mood which could go down as well as up and he deeply resented the fact that the increasing physical demands of the service reduced the time available for creative thought - "time to brood" as he used to say. He was much loved by a generation of nurses, trainee doctors and other colleagues.

Outside medicine he had many interests. A golf handicap of three was only modified by a troublesome and chronic back problem. His prowess in Scottish and Irish fiddle music is well-known. He was a committed Christian with a base in the Roman Catholic Church. Above all he was a devoted family man and is survived by his wife, Janice, a son, two daughters and several grandchildren who were all a source of great joy to him.