William & Sarah Patterson

Biography of William & Sarah Patterson

William Patterson
William Patterson

William John Patterson (1928-1997), MBChB, DPH, DPA, DIH, FFCM was born in Glasgow in 1928 and raised in Renfrew, where he was active in the Boys' Brigade. He was educated at the High School of Glasgow and graduated from the University of Glasgow Medical School in 1951. He did National Service from 1952-54 as an officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps, where he served in Egypt. He held senior house posts at Knightswood Hospital before taking his Diploma in Public Health in 1957. He followed this with a Diploma in Public Administration from the University.

Dr Patterson dedicated his working life to improving public health in the West of Scotland. He served as Divisional Medical Officer for Glasgow Corporation, was the last Medical Officer of Health at the Royal Burgh of Ayr and retired as Consultant in Public Health with Ayrshire and Arran Health Board. He also studied law as an external student at Gray's Inn, London and was a key member of many committees examining the legal aspects of public health. He became a leading authority on Poliomyelitis, Brucellosis and Cryptosporidiosis and was published in the British Medical Journal, the Lancet, and the Infectious Diseases Bulletin. He held fellowships in the faculties of community medicine and public health medicine of the Royal College of Physicians. He was a member of the British Medical Association and the Honourable Society of Gray's Inn, and President of Glasgow Eastern Medical Society. After his retiral he sat on the Scottish Office committee to review public health legislation on food hygiene.

He is best remembered for his campaigning work against sub-standard housing, where he worked towards easing appalling conditions amongst tenement dwellers, and in reducing lead contamination in the environment.

Dr Patterson retired to Troon and died in 1997, leaving a legacy of improved public health in Scotland for future generations.

His widow Sarah who had been his secretary, died in 2009, leaving the residue of her estate to the University for medical education and research in public health as he had wished. The bequest of £1.1m funded several fellowships and research projects to examine the role of biological ageing in healthy ageing, health inequalities and coronary heart disease.


William & Sarah Patterson
University Link: Benefactor, Graduate
GU Degrees: MBChB, 1951; DPH, 1957; DPA,
Occupation categories: doctor
Record last updated: 7th Apr 2021

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