Obituary: Dr Calum Brechin Macfarlane, 75

Dr Macfarlane put his knowledge into driving forward drug research
Dr Macfarlane put his knowledge into driving forward drug research
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An industrial pharmacist who oversaw the growth of a research company in Edinburgh has died at the age of 75.

Dr Calum Brechin Macfarlane played a crucial role in ensuring new medicines were manufactured to the highest standards.

He was born in Dundee in 1937, the son of a community pharmacist, Charles Macfarlane.

Educated at Dundee High School, Calum spent two years gaining experience in a community pharmacy before beginning his higher education at the Royal College of Science and Technology and Glasgow University, graduating in 1960 with an honours BSc in Pharmacy.

Rather than joining his father’s practice, he decided to pursue a PhD, researching surfactants – “hidden” ingredients of medicines.

His work was published in various periodicals, such as the Journal of the Chemical Society and the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology.

By the early 1960s, Calum was an assistant lecturer in the department of pharmacy at the Royal College in Glasgow.

Soon after, the college became the University of Strathclyde and Calum was seconded to Nigeria and the department of pharmacy at the University of Ife.

Newly married, he and his wife Mary spent a year in Africa in conditions that differed hugely from the UK, with Calum often reminding well-supported colleagues that he had to prepare solutions for laboratory classes himself.

In 1968, he helped write a book – Solubilization by Surface Active Agents – which has been cited more than 400 times, the latest being this year.

Industry beckoned and Calum left Strathclyde in 1970 to become manager of pharmaceutical development at Lilly Research Laboratories in Surrey.

Six years later, the opportunity arose for Calum to work on a broader 
scale for another international company – Syntex Research at Heriot-Watt University.

He oversaw its development, eventually moving into a large new facility on campus, before the company was bought over by Roche. He became European director of research and development, looking after teams working in Edinburgh and Paris.

In 1991, he took over responsibility for the firm’s global pharmaceutical development groups based in California. Retirement came four years later, although Calum kept in touch with consultancy work.

Away from his career, he loved the outdoors and was keen on fly-fishing, and joined his wife Mary in her favourite sport of curling.

He died after a short illness at his home in Linlithgow last week and is survived by Mary, daughter Gaele, son Angus, daughter-in-law Serena and two grandchildren.