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Significant Scots
Dr. Watson Buchanan


Prestigious medical prize for Mac professor
(Our thanks to the Hamilton Spectator for providing this article)

Dr. W. Watson Buchanan, a native Glaswegian who spent the latter half of his career at McMaster University Medical Centre, has received the Cullen Prize, awarded by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh to recognise a lifetime of clinical research and academic excellence.

Buchanan, 74, arrived in Canada on Jan, 25 (Robbie Burns Day) in 1979 and soon joined the faculty of McMaster University, where he taught medicine, conducted research into rheumatic diseases and continued to publish medical texts and papers.

"I was obviously pleased to get the award, but was equally pleased, if not more pleased, that it would reflect well on McMaster, my adopted alma mater," said Buchanan, who lives in Dundas.

The gold medal is named for Dr. William Cullen, born in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1710. A physician mentor, he stressed the importance of chemistry to his students and the medical profession.

Buchanan received his medical training in Glasgow, with a speciality in endocrinology. In 1992 he travelled to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, as a post-doctoral fellowship, where he made a significant contribution to defining Sjogren’s Syndrome, a chronic disease in which the white blood cells attack the moisture-producing glands of the body.

His reputation as an authority on rheumatic diseases was already well established by the time Buchanan arrived here. He had published one of only two known texts on clinical rheumatology and an important article on pharmacology and the interaction of anti-rheumatic drugs, which drew attention to the problems of their use with elderly patients.

The professor emeritus has mixed feelings about medical advances. He said national healthcare becomes more expensive and unwieldy with each scientific breakthrough.

"It's extremely difficult for any nation to run a health service because every advance merely costs the system more money. Every country has to deal with this and what I feel at the moment is that Canada is struggling and not really coming to grips with this."

Earlier this year, the Canadian Rheumatology Association also recognized Buchanan as a "Distinguished Rheumatologist."

On  Dr. Watson Buchanan receiving an award.

What a clever chiel is Watty B. in matters medicatum,
Wi  Academic excellence in yon Athritic Rhumatatum.
The folks in the Royal College of physicians in Reekie,
Hae after lang debate on this decided then to seek ye.
They cared na, for time a’, nor what it cost the bother, 
Wi sagely saws, an’ hems an’ haws,
They gaither’d a’ thegither.

Says ane, ‘ this chiel has surely made a michty contribution,
To understand what ails a man wi’ dreaded Sjogren’s Syndrome’.
Anither said ‘I’ve read his texts on endro-crino-logy,
Syne that’s the only ane I ken, on clinical rheuma-tology.’
They cheered then, an’ speered then, in ultimate accord,
Till a’ cried ‘we ken what tae dae,
We’ll gie him an award!’

They hae saved up their Scottish gowd tae mak a medal fine,
And moulded it wi special care to show each word and line.
They named it for Willie Cullen,frae Duke o’ Hamilton’s town,
A Physic teacher and mentor, for student’s all aroun’.
It sits right, it fits right, tae laud your reputation,
It lightens, and brightens,
Your elevated station.

Then Watty, when you got the word, tae flie out o’er the water,
You thought that it reflected well on your adopted alma mater.
McMaister’s governing body when told about the call.
Said ‘ now we’ll hae to hang yon’s picture in the Hall
His potions an’ notions and anti rheuma fame,
It warms us, it charms us
Tae see our Buchie’s flame’.

Sae aff you flew tae Scotia’s shores, to spend a short hiatus,
An’ get the medal that was made for ‘Professor Emeritatus’.
Your guid wife Peggy stayed ahint, she cared na’ for thae games,
“Ochon”she said” he’s aff to Glesca to look for Scottish names!”
Frae UMC and CRA the words come skelpin’ o’er,
They praise you, and raise you,
What could we ask for more?

Jack Jackson Sept. 2004

The respected doctor has also published a book on "Immigrants in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada" as well as "King James VI of Scotland and I of England (1566 - 1625)" and "Scottish Gaelic Christian Names for Girls and Boys".

Dr. Buchanan was born in Glasgow on July 4, 1930 and died on January 288, 2006. He is survived by his wife, Margaret, sons, Alan and James, and daughter, Helen.


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