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Celebrating the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the Western General Hospital

Dec 2018: An afternoon symposium was held to celebrate the Department of Clinical Neurosciences' tenure at the Western General Hospital, before its move to Edinburgh BioQuarter in 2019.

To mark the long and illustrious tenure of the NHS Lothian Department of Clinical Neurosciences (DCN) at the Western General Hospital site since 1960, an afternoon symposium was held to celebrate this history at the IGMM on November 29th 2018.

Charles Warlow, Peter Sandercock, Roger Cull & Ernest Jellinek (seated)
Charles Warlow, Peter Sandercock, Roger Cull & Ernest Jellinek (seated)

Colleagues past and present

Around 80 people attended the event, to look back at how we got here, and forward to the future on a new site.

We were particularly honoured to welcome a number of VIPs including Margot Miller, wife of Douglas Miller, Professor of Neurosurgery at DCN until his untimely death in 1995. His name came up repeatedly throughout the afternoon, both as the creator of DCN as a joint neurology/neurosurgical academic and clinical centre, and also as a role model of the doctor scientist who nurtured his trainees and inspired everyone around him. 

Also in the audience was Ernest Jellinek, now 96, consultant neurologist in DCN from 1966 to 1996. Ernest’s historical reach is such that he fought in the second world war and his father worked for a period for Sigmund Freud in Vienna. We were also honoured that Jim Jenkinson, David Wright and Murray Carmichael, all retired from DCN anaesthetics, could attend.

Preview of new space

The event started with a welcome and vote of thanks from Chris Stirling, General Manager at the Western and Chris Myers, Manager for DCN and Orthopaedics who gave us a preview of some of the space at the new DCN at Edinburgh BioQuarter.

Other highlights

  • Charles Warlow (Neurology), Robin Sellar (Neuroradiology), James Steers (Neurosurgery), and Roger Cull (Neurophysiology) gave us thoughts and reflections. The effect was a bit like a clinical neuroscience version of a Led Zeppelin reunion, in terms of crowd-pleasing rarity and quality!
  • Louise Williams, NHS Lothian Archivist, told us about the Norman Dott Archive, a digital collection of 28,000 clinical neuroscience case records from the 1920s to 1960 available for researchers and Max Fend, Medical Student, described a project using the data.
  • Alison Stewart stood in magnificently at the last minute to talk about nursing.
Attendees at the DCN at the WGH event

The future

We no longer expect patients to be lined up like soldiers for the consultant ward round, but we should work hard to keep up the “esprit de corps” among all members of DCN that came along with the intense working conditions of the past.

The afternoon was recorded and will be available online in January (a link will be added when available).


Thanks to Judi Clarke and Rachel Burrow for help with organisation and catering, to Ioannis Fouyas for joint neurosurgical chairing, and to Siddharthan Chandran for funding the event from CCBS.

Thank you also to Jon Stone for writing this summary.

Related links

NHS Lothian website: Proud Histories New Chapters - about the new DCN at Edinburgh BioQuarter

Edinburgh BioQuarter

Norman Dott Archive