Vale: Professor David Brynmor Thomas


The School of Medicine community was saddened to learn of the recent death of former Bute Professor of Anatomy and Experimental Pathology and Chair of Anatomy, Professor David Brynmor Thomas.

Professor David Crossman issued the following statement:

“I was sad to learn of David’s death last weekend. He was a true friend to the School of Medicine, conducting his own research in medical sciences and teaching medical students through his time at the University. He was a kind man who was still interested in the School even in his last years and talked keenly to me about developments in the School. He remained passionate about the field of bone marrow transplantation, an area of medical science in which he had made a significant early impact. We have lost a loyal servant of the School and a link with the past.”

Obituary, Professor David Brynmor Thomas:

By Prof Andrew Riches


David Brynmor Thomas (DBT) was born in 1930 and passed away peacefully on Saturday May 23rd 2020 in his flat. David was Bute Professor of Anatomy and Experimental Pathology and Chair of Anatomy at the University of St. Andrews in 1973 -1996. He served as Master of United College 1980-84.

DBT started training in medicine at University College London in 1949 awarded a BSc in Anatomy (intercalated) in 1952 with special honours and completed his clinical training at University College Hospital. While at UC, he was Editor of the Hospital Magazine in 1953, received special recognition in 1955 for research conducted on pregnancies complicated by diabetes mellitus. He became a Demonstrator in Anatomy at the University of Bristol (1959–1961) followed by appointments as Lecturer in Pathology at the Welsh National School of Medicine (1961–1963) and Nuffield Lecturer in Pathology at the University of Oxford (1963–1965). His interest in haematology was sparked with his time in Bristol with Professor Yoffey, where he published a seminal paper in Nature on haematopoesis in human foetal liver.

His international reputation was recognised by awarding honorary membership of the Anatomische Gesellschaft, the Italian Society of Anatomy and the American Association of Anatomists. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Biology, Fellow of the British Association of Clinical Anatomists, Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, FRC of Physicians of Edinburgh, FRC of Physicians of London, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He also was President of the Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

David returned to Anatomy when he was appointed Senior Lecturer in charge of the Sub‐department of Histology and Cellular Biology in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Birmingham (1965–1973). He established an experimental haematology group and spent time in Oak Ridge, USA with Dr. C. Congdon. It was at this time that there was great concern about the effects of radiation. The importance of stem cells and bone marrow transplantation was emerging. He often mentioned at the time that he had read all the papers that had ever been published on bone marrow transplantation. He attended many conferences and was in contact with leading experts in the field of Experimental Haematology in Australia, USA, Netherlands, France and Harwell and Manchester in the UK. He could be relied upon to question and politely argue with experts like Van Bekkum, Lajtha, Frindel and McCulloch, who were leaders in the field at the time.

He was a charismatic lecturer with his soft Welsh tones, and meticulously prepared his scientific presentations. At the end of his lectures, he would always spend time with students or other researchers to discuss at length any questions or misunderstandings.

David was appointed Bute Professor of Anatomy and Experimental Pathology and Chair of Anatomy at the University of St. Andrews in 1973. He served in these positions until 1996, at which time he became an Emeritus Professor. He served as Master of United College 1980-84 and as Chancellor’s Assessor on the University Court. One of his early appointments was Hugh MacDougall as Anatomy Demonstrator. Hugh returned in later years as Dean and Head of School to establish the School of Medicine and the new building. David was instrumental in building up the research base of the Department.

David never lost his Welsh roots and loved walking and talking about the Brecon Beacons. David always had time for people. David will be missed by many colleagues both in St. Andrews and in the many international links he made over the years.

categories: news

Ebola preparedness in Rwanda

The ongoing Ebola outbreak in DR Congo continues to present challenges, not only to those who are directly affected, but to neighbouring countries.  Dr Sloan, a Senior Clinical Lecturer in the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews and Consultant Infectious Diseases physician in NHS Fife was deployed as part of a four-person team by the Department of International Development (DfID) to work alongside the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ministry of Health, Rwanda Biomedical Council and others to help bolster preparedness activities.  He mainly worked in Rubavu District and at Gisenyi District Hospital.  One of the team’s most important activities was to help co-ordinate a simulation exercise on how a suspect Ebola patient could be managed at the hospital in a way which provided best supportive care whilst minimising risks of transmission to others.

Regular practice with simulations and feedback is the best way for healthcare workers to be ready in advance of emergencies so this was a very valuable exercise.


Dr Sloan also visited Rwanda a year ago on a WHO technical Consultancy to help with Ebola Preparedness. It was good to be back to meet Rwandan colleagues who are near the front line of the global public health response, and to discuss ongoing challenges. Previously, he has worked in the Sierra Leone during the West African Ebola outbreak in 2015, and was the UK Emergency Medical Team Clinical Lead during an outbreak of diphtheria amongst the displaced Rohingya population in Bangladesh in 2018.


NSS Survey 2019: University of St Andrews Medicine Number 1 in the UK

The National Student Satisfaction (NSS) survey results 2019 were published today (3 July 2019) and the School of Medicine has topped the ranking for UK medical schools. This is a very gratifying result for the School and reflects the emphasis placed on excellence in teaching and student experience.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI, evaluates the level of satisfaction felt by students of the quality of their course of study.

The result echoes that of the overall ranking for the University, where the University of St Andrews once again was ranked number 1 in the UK for student satisfaction.

Learn more about the NSS survey.

GapSummit 2019

Filippo Abbondanza recently participated in GapSummit 2019 at the Broad Institute (Boston,  GapSummit is a highly selective event (100 participants over 1,000 applications) where young professionals/students are exposed to top academics (Nobel Prizes and other famous Professors) as well as industry leaders (top managers of all the big pharmas and several genomics companies).  Alongside this 5-day conference, we were  divided into teams to work for five months over industrial projects before the start of the event.  Filippo’s team reached the final stage with our business proposal and he presented the project at the Broad Institute during GapSummit. Filippo was the only participant from Scotland.

International Regional Advisor for WHO

Professor Alexander Baldacchino, Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry and Addictions with the Population and Behaviour Science Division, St Andrews University Medical School has been invited to work with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to lead the development of a programme of work for the area of substance use in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMRO).  This temporary position as an international regional advisor will guide and facilitate the development of a strategic approach for the 22 Regional Member States to scale up prevention and treatment for substance use disorders.  Alex is expected to leave Fife for the EMRO office in Cairo on the 1st July 2019 returning during 2020.  Professor Baldacchino also holds clinical responsibilities as NHS Fife Consultant Psychiatrist in Addictions and NHS Fife Research and Development Director.  He has also recently been elected as President Elect for the International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM).

International meeting on improving Diabetes care overseas.

The Medical School at the University of St Andrews recently hosted 31 diabetes specialists represented by delegates from Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, Lebanon and South Arica.  They attended the tenth annual Postgraduate Diabetes Course, led by Emeritus Professor of Medicine at St Andrews, Ian Campbell.  The teaching faculty came from the five Scottish university medical schools, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews and from Birmingham.

Diabetes has now reached epidemic proportions.  8.3% of the world’s population is diabetic but 46% of this is undiagnosed.  One person dies every 7 seconds from diabetes and its complications.  25% – 30% of the population in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are affected.  Developing countries such as Ghana now have 10% of diabetes in their population.  This diabetes epidemic is related to increasing obesity and decreased exercise.    The expanding role of bariatric surgery was reviewed.  The problems of gestational diabetes in pregnancy, is now an increasing problem.  Type 2 diabetes, usually seen in middle-aged and older individuals, is now occurring in younger people with obesity and poor lifestyle.  The average age of onset on type 2 diabetes in the Gulf States in the Middle East is 30 years, compared to 60 in Scotland.

New therapies for diabetes were discussed. There were workshops dealing with complications of diabetes, affecting the eyes, kidneys and feet.  The problems of premature heart disease and stroke were highlighted.  Acute complications of diabetic coma and hypoglycaemia were reviewed.  The future role of genetics in better defining type 2 diabetes and its management illustrated the importance of new research developments in this field.

Professor Ian Campbell, Emeritus Professor at the University, gave an opening address to welcome the delegates and said he hoped the course would sow the seeds of improved diabetes care overseas and lead to stronger links between Scottish Universities and health professionals in developing countries.

St Andrews and the UKFP Applicants Handbook 2020

Important update – clarification of University of St Andrews BSc Medicine and UKFPO scores

The School of Medicine has received the following communication from the UKFPO this afternoon (17 June), confirming that the UKFP Applicant’s Handbook 2019 is incorrect, and that points WILL continue to be awarded for the St Andrews BSc in Medicine.


“The UK Foundation Programme 2020 Applicant’s Handbook includes the following statement on page 15 under ‘Additional Degrees’:

“Medicine BSc

“The BSc course in medicine awarded by the University of St Andrews forms the first part of the MBChB / MBBS course awarded by partner universities. Points will not be awarded for this BSc Honours degree.

“This is not correct and has been included in error. The UK FPO can confirm that points will be awarded for the BSc in Medicine at the University of St Andrews, as in previous years. I apologise for any anxiety, upset or confusion caused by this error.”

Dr Tom Yapp

Chair, Recruitment Delivery Group

Special Advisor on Recruitment to the UK FPO”


The University of St Andrews will continue to liaise with the UKFPO on how the incorrect statement came to be published. I trust that meantime, all our students and graduates from the School of Medicine can be reassured about the status of the BSc and the award of points within the UK Foundation process.

David Crossman

Dean of Medicine