Ian Isherwood

Ian Isherwood CBE (1931-2018)

Ian Isherwood 2

We are sorry to announce the passing of Ian Isherwood. Ian was President of The British Institute of Radiology (BIR) from 1984–1985, and made many contributions to diagnostic radiology.

Ian was born in 1931 in Batley in Yorkshire and moved to Lancashire when he was six.  He went to school at Eccles in Lancashire, where he met Jean Pennington who was a fellow student. He studied Medicine at the University of Manchester, graduating in 1954.  In that same year he married Jean. Ian and Jean were inseparable, and Jean attended many conferences with Ian. Jean predeceased Ian by only a few weeks.

After qualifying, Ian worked at Manchester Royal Infirmary specialising in diagnostic radiology. He developed an interest in neuroradiology, and in 1961 was appointed Consultant Radiologist at Derby. However, two years later he returned to Manchester as Consultant Neuroradiologist and Deputy Director of the Department of Diagnostic Radiology.  In 1975 he was appointed as the newly established chair of Diagnostic Radiology at the University of Manchester, and he held this post until he retired in 1993. Ian played a major role in promoting academic radiology, and under his direction the Manchester radiology training scheme became one of the largest and most respected in the UK.  

In 1972 Ian met James Ambrose at the Atkinson Morley Hospital, and was able to view the prototype CT scanner. He was immediately aware of the potential of this new technique, and later that year the EMI CT 1000 was installed in Manchester. This was followed in 1975 by the EMI CT5000 body scanner. In a similar manner, Ian could see the major role that NMR would have, and in 1983 a Picker 0.26 Tesla superconducting MRI scanner was installed at the University.

As well as publishing extensively, Ian had many interests including his work with curators at the Manchester Museum where he pioneered CT techniques in Egyptology.  Ian was President of the Radiological Section of the Royal Society of Medicine (1992–1993), the European Association of Radiology (1989–1991), the British Society of Neuroradiology, and the Manchester Medical Society (1985–1986). Ian had a deep interest in the history of radiology and was a founder member and chairman of the Radiology History and Heritage Charitable Trust (now the British Society for the History of Radiology).

Ian received many well-deserved awards. He received the Barclay Prize of the BIR in 1991, Honorary Membership of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in 1993, the Gold Medal of the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) in 1995, and was a Boris Rajewsky Medalist at the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) in 1995.      

A highlight of his career was in 1995 when he was President of the highly successful Röntgen Centenary Congress held in Birmingham. In 1993 he became Dean of the newly formed European College of Radiological Education. He was awarded the CBE for Services to Radiology in 1996.

Ian was always charming, and was masterful at chairing committees. He had a quiet smile, and he will be missed by many. It was a pleasure to walk with Princess Margaret and Ian around the historical exhibition at the Röntgen Centenary Congress, and to review the developments in radiology over the previous 100 years to which Ian had contributed so much.

Obituary by Adrian Thomas, Honorary Historian, BIR.

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