Consultant physician and gastroenterologist known for his research into coeliac disease and nutrition

Born: December 21, 1936;

Died: November 21, 2018

ROBIN Irvine Russell, who has died aged 81, was a consultant physician and gastroenterologist, a former head of gastroenterology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, and an honorary professor at Glasgow University who achieved international acclaim for his research into inflammatory bowel disease, coeliac disease and nutrition.

Born in Wishaw in Lanarkshire, he became dux of Wishaw High School before graduating as a bachelor of medicine and surgery in 1960, a doctor of medicine in 1972, and a doctor of philosophy in 1976, all from Glasgow University.

From 1966 to 1968, he was a member of the scientific and medical staff at the Medical Research Council’s gastroenterology unit in London, and from 1968 to 1970, he was a lecturer in medicine at Glasgow University. In 1970, aged only 33 years, he was appointed consultant physician and gastroenterologist and head of the department of gastroenterology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Regarded as a wonderful role model by young clinicians, Mr Russell encouraged academic and research ambitions in all trainees. Under his leadership, the department quickly developed active research programmes and attracted excellent trainees, with outstanding registrars and senior registrars going on to populate many of the consultant posts across Scotland and the UK.

When the development of fibre-optic gastrointestinal endoscopy brought new opportunities for investigation, he promptly established an endoscopy unit at Glasgow Royal Infirmary that soon became a leading training centre in the UK. Mr Russell also recognised the importance of good nutrition to the wellbeing of patients and set up a unit providing dietary expertise, together with enteral tube feeding and intravenous nutrition if required.

Ahead of his time, Mr Russell created effective multidisciplinary teams involving physicians, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists and dietitians to look after complex patients. He always had time to support the many medical, nursing and ancillary staff who made up the clinical teams.

He was the author of 325 original papers, two books and over 20 chapters and presented well over 250 guest lectures at meetings and conferences around the world. He was a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

He was also a member of the Association of Physicians, the British Society of Gastroenterology, and the American Gastroenterological Association. For several years, he served as international chair and advisor in research development in gastroenterology for the National Institutes of Health in Washington, USA, as well as serving as editor of Current Opinion in Gastroenterology.

Surprisingly, he had time for golf. He played regularly at Pollok Golf Club and was a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews. He also enjoyed music and literature.

An inspirational academic and clinician, he will be sadly missed by his friends and colleagues. He is survived by his wife, Ann, son-in-law, Simon, and granddaughter, Zoe, and was the beloved dad of the late Bruce and the late Kara.