Ian Douglas-Wilson

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Ian Douglas-Wilson
Born(1912-05-12)12 May 1912
Harrogate, Yorkshire, England
Died15 October 2013(2013-10-15) (aged 101)
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
Occupation(s)Physician and editor
Known forEditor of The Lancet
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1940–1955
Service number127729

Ian Douglas-Wilson (12 May 1912 – 15 October 2013) was a British physician who was editor of The Lancet, a United Kingdom-based medical journal, from 1965 to 1976.

Early life[edit]

Douglas-Wilson was born on 12 May 1912 in Harrogate, Yorkshire, England.[1][2] He was educated at Marlborough College, a private school in Marlborough, Wiltshire.[3] He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh.[4] He graduated in 1936, and completed a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree in 1938.[5][3]


Douglas-Wilson began his medical career in Dublin, Ireland helping to deliver newborns. This was followed by work in Pembrokeshire, Wales as a general practitioner.[4]

On 3 April 1940, he commissioned into the Royal Army Medical Corps, British Army as a lieutenant. He was given the service number 127729.[6] He took part in the Normandy Landings in June 1944.[2] His experience treating shell-shocked soldiers in the following months, lead to the publication of an article exploring the impact of war and conflict on mental health. This made him one of the first to have work published in this field of expertise.[4] He was one of the first allied medical professionals to reach the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, following its liberation in April 1945.[1] He later told his family he felt guilty because the first troops to arrive fed the famished prisoners high-calorie rations. Many died because they were unused to food.[2] He returned to England with photographs of the camp that he would keep in his desk drawer as a reminder.[2]

Following the end of World War II, he attended an interview at the British Medical Journal.[2] This led the then editor Hugh Clegg to offer him a job.[7] Being 'too radical for their publication', he refused and it was suggested that he try The Lancet.[2] In 1946, he was given the position of assistant editor.[8] This was the beginning a 30-year career with the medical journal.[7][9] In 1952, he was promoted to Deputy Editor.[9] He served as editor from 1965 to 1976.[2]

He retired on 30 June 1976.[10]

Later life[edit]

Douglas-Wilson died of heart failure on 15 October 2013 in London, England. He was aged 101.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Douglas-Wilson and his wife had three children; a son, David, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Joanna.[3] He was a supporter of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He attended one of the first Aldermaston marches with his then teenage son.[2]


  1. ^ a b Walters, Max (14 May 2012). "Cricklewood centenarian celebrates his milestone birthday with friends and family". Brent and Kilburn Times. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dr Ian Douglas-Wilson". The Times. 24 October 2013. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Pincock, Stephen (23 November 2013). "Ian Douglas-Wilson". The Lancet. 382 (9906): 1697–1698. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62393-4. S2CID 54229048.
  4. ^ a b c Wright, Paul (25 October 2013). "Obituary: Renowned 'radical' editor of The Lancet Dr Ian Douglas-Wilson dies aged 101". Hampstead & Highgate Express. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  5. ^ Douglas-Wilson, Ian (1938). "A statistical comparison of the blood sedimentation rate and white blood cell count in acute respiratory conditions, with special reference to lobar pneumonia". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "No. 34843". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 May 1940. pp. 2703–2704.
  7. ^ a b Kandela, Peter (1 October 1998). "The editors". The Lancet. 352 (9134): 1141–1143. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(98)08337-8. PMID 9798609. S2CID 54429475. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  8. ^ Horton, Richard (1 May 2012). "Offline: 25×25—the survival of the leanest". The Lancet. 379 (9828): 1774. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60728-4. S2CID 54425334.
  9. ^ a b "Ian Douglas-Wilson Successor to Fox and Wakley". JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 191 (3): 244. 18 January 1965. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080030088017.
  10. ^ "Editor of the Lancet". Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners. 26 (164): 199–200. 1976. PMC 2158080.

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