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Provan Murray,



It is my sad task to inform of the death of Professor Ian Provan Cathcart Murray at the age of 71, after a long battle with chronic lung disease. The World Federation of Nuclear Medicine and Biology is deeply mourning the lost of one of its former Presidents. Provan Murray was in charge of the WFNMB from 1990 to 1994. His presidency culminated with the organization of the magnificent Sixth World Congress in the beautiful city of Sidney. The life and fruitful work and contribution to the medical science of Professor Murray are nicely expressed in the following note written by his disciples and close collaborators Frank Broderick, Brenda Walker and Monica Rossleigh.

His spirit will live on his family, many colleagues, friends and particularly in the WFNMB.

May Provan rest in peace

Horacio Amaral, MD
President WFNMB


Ian Provan Cathcart Murray, the grandfather of Australian Nuclear Medicine and the mentor of numerous physicians and technologists, was born in Glasgow and after an initial desire for a career in journalism decided to study medicine and graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1952. He was a fierce Scottish nationalist and was proud of his active involvement when a student, in the retrieval of the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey back to its rightful place in Scotland. Although the Stone was subsequently sent back to England he was pleased that a few years ago it did return to Scotland, where it belonged.

After completing his training as an endocrinologist with a special interest in thyroid endocrinology at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary he was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship and took up the position of Clinical and Research Fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston as well as Research Fellow in Medicine at Harvard University. In 1963 he accepted a position at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney where he founded the first Australian Department of Nuclear Medicine. At the time of his retirement from this hospital in June 1994 he was still Director of the Department and also Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales. He continued working in private practice until 1999.

Provan was a foundation committee member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nuclear Medicine (ANZSNM) and the Foundation President of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Physicians in Nuclear Medicine (ANZAPNM) (1970-72). Initially his main research interest was in thyroid endocrinology. Then in early 1970 he became involved in developing the first Technetium based bone scanning agents along with colleagues from the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC), now known as the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO). Bone scanning became his main research interest and he developed an international reputation in this field of nuclear medicine. This was recognised by his election to the International Skeletal Society and the granting of Honorary Fellowship by the American College of Radiologists.

He was author of over 150 scientific papers, 11 invited chapters and 2 textbooks.

His quest for new and bigger challenges resulted in his co-editorship, along with Professor Peter Ell, University College, London, of a major international textbook of Nuclear Medicine which was first published in 1994 with a second edition released in 1998.

Provan was pivotal in setting up the first training course for Nuclear Medicine Technologists at Sydney Technical College and continued to maintain an active interest in technologist training, having been on the Cumberland College External Advisory Committee for the School of Medical Radiation Technology. He was also responsible for the initiation of the ANZSNM’s Mallinckrodt Award for Technologists. He was actively involved for many years in the NSW Radiation Advisory Council and made a major contribution in this area. He also served on the ANSTO Biomedicine and Health Program Review and Nuclear Medicine Liaison Committees.

Provan had many international interests. He was a foundation member of the Pediatric Imaging Council of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and made a significant contribution to pediatric nuclear medicine knowledge. He was President of the Asia and Oceania Federation of Nuclear Medicine (1976-1978) and was Secretary-General of the first Congress of the Federation in Sydney in 1976. He represented the ANZSNM as the Australian delegate for the World Federation of Nuclear Medicine and Biology from 1975. He was President of the World Federation and hosted the very successful World Congress in Sydney in 1994. He was also the head and principal investigator of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Nuclear Medicine in the Western Pacific region. Provan had a great interest in China and was a guest speaker there on several occasions from as early as 1976. He had an Honorary Professorship at the Military Post-graduate Medical School and Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing.

In 1994 Provan was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to Nuclear Medicine. He was granted honorary life membership of the ANZSNM in 1993 and the ANZAPNM in 1994.

Outside Nuclear Medicine, Provan had a great love and knowledge of opera and was also a keen follower of cricket and rugby union. He also enjoyed pastel painting and sketching. While academic pursuit was of importance to Provan, of equal importance was the enjoyment of life. He loved a good party and organised some great ones. The highlight of the world congress dinner that he hosted as President was Provan’s dramatic entrance dressed as the Roman emperor in his chariot. At that dinner, he addressed the audience by the salutation, "friends, Englishmen and physicists, lend me your ears". He had a great sense of humour and capacity for fun.

Provan had a deep love for his adopted country and a great capacity for friendship. He was proud of his early involvement with the Don Talbot Swimming School and his Chairmanship of the Council of the Uniting Church in Double Bay and Woollahra. His circle of friends was wide and international.

Provan was singularly fortunate in his wife Margaret and his children, Gail, Colin and Kym and later his grandchildren, Jordan, Rachel, Adam and James. They, together with his sister, Elizabeth, in Scotland, were a very close family unit and his loss to them is profound.

‘Prof.’, as he was affectionately known, will be dearly missed by all of us.

Frank Broderick, Brenda Walker, Monica Rossleigh