Annual Memorial Service

The annual memorial service to remember the people who bequeathed their bodies to the School of Medicine, for the advancement of anatomical education and research, took place virtually today, the 28th of April. The service, which normally occurs every April, had to be cancelled last year as a result of COVID-19. The chaplaincy together with the School of Medicine’s Bequest and Anatomy teams worked hard in order for the memorial service to take place in a virtual format.

This years’ service was filmed in advance and shared online, making it accessible to the families of the deceased and students all around the world. It began with a beautiful view of St Salvator’s Chapel at the University and an opening address from Revd Dr Donald MacEwan. He said that although it was not possible to gather in person this year, he hoped that it could offer “space and time to remember, to say farewell, to acknowledge the generosity of the gift and to take hope for the future”.

The service, which was 45 minutes long, featured beautiful music led by Claire Innes-Hopkins, Director of Chapel Music, Campbell Watterson Organ Scholars, and members of St Salvator’s Chapel Choir.  Viewers enjoyed a moving sermon from Dr Clare Masters, a former palliative care doctor and Reader, akin to a layperson priest at the Church of England. Dr Masters, who won sermon of the year in 2019, remembered her own days studying anatomy at the University of Bristol fondly and how body donors contributed so much to learning. She acknowledged that behind the body donors were real people, who had left family members and loved ones behind.  Prayers were led by Revd Samantha Ferguson, Assistant Chaplain and readings by Professor Gerald Humphris, School of Medicine and Cait Murphy, Bute Medical Society President.

New to the service this year was a number of contributions from medical students, about the significance of body donations for medical teaching and research. Thanksgiving was heard across all medicine year groups, stating that the time spent in the dissection room consolidated learning and helped them to become better doctors. Body donation was described as a selfless gift that provided doctors-to-be with their first patients.

The service, which is open to all, is available at



categories: news

Obituary – Alan Gibb

Alan Gibb (1919 – 2020)

Born in Aberdeen in 1919, to GP parents, Alan Gibb graduated MBChB from Aberdeen and was enrolled in National Service with the RAMC as a Specialist Otologist, deployed to West Africa, where he achieved the rank of Major.

Upon return, Alan was an ENT consultant at Dundee Royal Infirmary and then Ninewells Hospital from 1950 until his retirement in 1984.

During this time, he was appointed Senior Lecturer at the University of St Andrews and established a Department of Otolaryngology.

Perhaps his his most significant contribution to students not just at St Andrews and Dundee, but across the world, however, was the introduction of the Objective Structured Clinical Examination.

The OSCE is still the standard evaluation method for clinical competence, used in medical schools and schools of nursing and midwifery. Alan Gibb was instrumental to their introduction in medical schools not just in the UK, but after his retirement, throughout 8 years in the Far East.
In 2015, he told ENT & Audiology news:

“I was responsible for spreading the OSCE in the Far East. I spent a lot of time researching teaching, and I always emphasised that you have to let students do things, not just sit through lectures. We introduced OSCEs to Singapore and Hong Kong, and the Australian board consulted us before they introduced OSCEs to their exams.”

He worked until he was 78, but finally decided to indulge in his other passions such as hillwalking and fly fishing. Also an accomplished golfer (with a one time handicap of 3), on his 90th birthday, he played 90 holes at Balmoral in under 24 hours with every hole putted and no lost balls.
He continued to ski until 95.

As with his two sisters, Alan lived beyond 100. He passed away on the 5th September at his home in the Cairngorms.

Reduction in neonatal mortality in 10 hospitals

The Paediatric and Child Health Association (PACHA) of Malawi started in 2015 to work with district hospitals to identify rooms and staff specifically dedicated for sick newborns, renovating the new units and equipping them with key equipment. A training package – Care of the Infant and Newborn (COIN) for capacity building of mid-level health workers (nurses and clinical officers) in the care of sick babies was developed along with neonatal admission forms and other supporting tools (adapted from real time monitoring tools courtesy UNICEF India).

Training was provided to 350 health workers. In addition, 43 pre-service lecturers from all but two health training institutions have been trained, nurse and midwife curriculum reviews facilitated, and mentoring and supervision provided. Working with the Central Monitoring and Evaluation Department (CMED) at MOH, a newborn care register was developed, printed, tested and initially used in these 10 hospitals. A database was also developed and used capturing the information from the neonatal admission forms.

The mortality rate for newborns in ten hospitals has shown a one-third reduction in the one year period, twice as fast as envisioned in project design.