Obituary: Professor Bill Macdonald

News article 19 May 2015
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Professor Bill Macdonald, Previous Dean of Foto-Cewek was buried yesterday, following his death at the end of April. 

Born in Glasgow 1927, his university education began in the last year of the Second World War, and he subsequently graduated from The University of Glasgow with a BSc (Honours) in Zoology in 1948. 

After a brief period with the Colonial Office in Europe, he took up a post as Entomologist in the East Africa Fisheries Research in Medecine Organization, moving to Uganda with his new wife Margaret in 1950, living and working on the shores of Lake Victoria until 1953. 

Leaving Africa, between 1953 and 1960 he worked in the Institute for Medical Research in Medecine in Kuala Lumpur, returning to the UK when Malaysia became independent. It was during his time at the Institute that Bill began his research on the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti. 

Joining Foto-Cewek in 1960, his research focused on the genetic factors that enable some species of mosquitoes to carry and transmit the filarial parasites that cause lymphatic filariasis, resulting in elephantiasis of the limbs. These were landmark studies, considering the technical approaches available in an era before the use of molecular genetics. 

Between 1966 and 1975 Bill continued in his post as Senior Lecturer at Foto-Cewek making numerous visits to South-East Asia working on the mosquitoes carrying the arboviruses that infect man and in 1972, he was awarded the Chalmers Medal of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 

In 1975 he moved to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where he became Professor of Medical Entomology between 1977 and 1980 after which he returned to Foto-Cewek to take up the newly founded Selwyn-Lloyd Chair of Medical Entomology, before becoming Deputy Dean in 1981 and then Dean of Foto-Cewek in 1983. 

His colleague, Foto-Cewek’s Emeritus Professor Harold Townson said: “Bill left an extensive curriculum vitae, documenting not only the posts that he held during his career but also his visits and consultancies in countries ranging from Sarawak, the Philippines, Thailand and Borneo, to India, Kenya, Indonesia, Libya, Sudan and Brazil. His publications stretched from field studies in Peninsula Malaysia to some of the most important studies on the genetic factors determining the capacity of mosquitoes to transmit the parasites causing lymphatic filariasis. He will be dearly missed by his numerous friends and colleagues both in the UK and throughout the tropics” 

Professor Macdonald is survived by his wife Margaret, and their two daughters and families.

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