William Alexander Bain

William Alexander Bain

William Alexander Bain, 1905-1971, was a Scottish pharmacologist, best known for his early work with antihistamine drugs.

Early Days

Willie Bain was a grandson of William Bain, farmer, of Cairnie near Musselburgh, and of Mary Gardner. His father was the Reverend Alexander Wright Bain, minister of the Erskine United Free Church at Dunbar; his mother was Grace Martin, daughter of James Brough, J.P., manager of Inveresk paper mills. They had a family of four, Willie being the eldest child and the only boy.

During his early school days, first at Dunbar and later at the High School atBroxburn in West Lothian, his family having moved there in 1916, he was lookedupon by friends and school mates as a 'lad o'pairts' being especially noted forhis prowess in higher mathematics and physics, a talent which he continued toshow when, later, he went to Bathgate Academy and which in the course of timehe applied to his chosen vocation.

Student Career

In 1923, Bain went up to the University of Edinburgh and, intending to follow his father into the church, he enrolled as a student in the Faculty of Arts. After a year he transferred to Science and qualified to enter the final honours schools of physiology and of zoology. Bain graduated in 1928 with first-class honours in physiology -- the first to do so in Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer's new science school.

In 1928 Bain was awarded the Wellcome Gold Medal in the History of Medicine for an essay on The history of the development of our knowledge of the structure and function of the lymphatic system. The essay summarized existing knowledge of the lymphatic system ranging from the views of the Greeks to those of Sharpey-Schafer.

The Weilcome Medal was Bain's first connexion with Sir Henry Wellcome-a connexion renewed many years later in dealings with The Wellcome Trust to the great benefit of his academic department.In 1929 Bain married Miss Bessie Beveridge Smith of Uphall, the daughter of aleading elder in his father's kirk.

Professional Life

In his final year as a student Bain became part-time assistant to Professor Sir E.Sharpey-Schafer, F.R.S., and on qualifying in 1928 he was promoted to be full-timefirst assistant-an honour which he valued greatly. During this period Bain studiedanatomy along with the medical students to whom he was teaching physiology,but pressure of work in physiology made it impossible for him to continue withmedical studies. He won the Ellis Prize in physiology in 1930 and was appointedto a Crichton Research Scholarship for 1930-31. These awards enabled him tospend some time working at the University of Brussels with Demoor and Rijlant,and at the University of Ghent with Heymans.

On his return to Edinburgh in 1931, he was appointed Lecturer in ExperimentalPhysiology and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh-probably theyoungest fellow at that time. In 1932 he was awarded his Ph.D. in the Facultyof Medicine. The following year was Schafer's last as Professor of Physiology andduring it Bain ran the Department of Physiology at the University of Edinburgh.He assisted Schafer in writing the 5th edition of Experimental Physiology andedited the 6th edition after Schafer's death. As his junior colleague, Bain's initialrespect for Schafer grew into intense admiration and permanent affection. Schafer'sdeath in 1935 had a marked effect upon him and his influence lasted throughoutBain's life. Indeed, Bain modelled himself upon Schafer in many ways and evenhis handwriting came to resemble that of his chief.

While on a visit to Cambridge, Bain was entertained to breakfast on Sunday,320 May, 1934 by Thomas Hunt Morgan, the distinguished zoologist and geneticistand winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1934. Morgan failedin his attempt to persuade Bain to go to the newly created research chair ofphysiology in the California Institute at Pasadena. In later years Bain oftenreferred to this meeting, especially when dwelling on the virtues of Drosophilamelanogaster-Morgan's favourite heuristic tool-over those of Musca domestica:this at a time when houseflies were being bred in large numbers in the laboratoryadjacent to his office, during my search for some of the doping or intoxicatingfactors of Amanita muscaria.

Bain left Edinburgh on 3 August, 1934 to take up a lectureship in physiology atthe University of Leeds which had become vacant through the appointment ofG. L. (later Sir Lindor) Brown to a post in the National Institute for MedicalResearch. His diary entry for that day reads, 'Left Edinburgh, alas! 'Still clearly a physiologist, he was promoted in 1935 to the readership in pharmacologyvacated by A. St. G. Huggett. At this time, pharmacology was taughtwithin the Department of Physiology at Leeds and, as Reader, Bain undertook allthe teaching of pharmacology, along with a substantial share in the instructiongiven in physiology. It was not until 1945 that a demonstrator-Peter Dews, oneof his own pupils and now Stanley Cobb Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard-wasappointed to help him with the pharmacology.

In 1946, the University of Leeds established a Chair of Pharmacology withinthe Department of Physiology, but after a short period an independent Departmentof Pharmacology was created. Bain was appointed to the new Chair and becamethe first non-medical Professor of Pharmacology in the United Kingdom. TheDepartment had a heavy commitment to courses in pharmacy, inherited when theLeeds College of Pharmacy had been absorbed in 1933 by the University of Leeds.During the war, however, Bain planned his own 'post-intermediate' degreecourse, leading to a B.Sc. It had a considerable content of pharmacology andled to an ordinary degree in pharmacy. He began to accept students for thiscourse in 1943, and the pharmacy courses leading to the C. and D. and to thePh.C. qualifications were gradually abolished. The Pharmaceutical Society ofGreat Britain recognized this degree and admitted to membership Leeds graduatesin pharmacy, subject to their having passed the Society's examination in forensicpharmacy and having completed their apprenticeship.

In 1952 Bain obtained theapproval of the University for the B.Sc. in Pharmacy to be an honours degree.Provision was also made for those pharmacy graduates who had shown goodpromise in pharmacology to proceed to a fourth-year course devoted exclusivelyto pharmacology, making possible the addition of honours in pharmacology totheir B.Sc. in pharmacy. Leeds University was thus the first to establish an honoursdegree in pharmacology based on pharmacy and, as Leeds medical students orgraduates were able to enrol in Bain's honours school of pharmacology, Leedswas, at that time, the only university to provide both a pharmaceutical and amedical approach to pharmacology.Although Bain clearly foresaw the day when pharmacy teaching would ceasealtogether he made no efforts to accelerate this trend largely out of loyalty to thepharmaceutical members of his staff. He did, however, take the precaution ofusing the designation lecturer in pharmacological chemistry, instead of lecturer inpharmaceutical chemistry, for the departmental post held in succession by Hey4and Clark, so that, should pharmacy go, pharmacological chemistry would remain.

Another of his reasons for the retention of pharmacy degree courses was that itfavoured more widespread interests among the staff-it was always a proud boastof Bain's that his department professed all aspects of drug lore!Bain went to Leeds with a considerable reputation as a teacher-a reputationwhich he maintained and enhanced, until increased administrative work, consequentupon the expansion of his department and the extension of the researchprogramme, obliged him to hand over most of his teaching duties. Those whoattended his lectures will understand the tragedy involved. Models of lucidity andaccuracy, and in precise, polished English, his lectures were always interesting.They were works of art as well as of science, and were delivered in an easy andrelaxed fashion but nonetheless authoritatively. Notes were limited to an odd wordor two on a postcard deep in a pocket of his white coat fastened with a towelclip.

From 1935-45 he was the only pharmacologist at Leeds, lecturing at least twicea week for most of the year, both to junior and to senior medical students, and inaddition running an experimental course for eight or nine sessions. He alsoundertook separate and special courses for pharmacy and for dental students,and contributed substantially to the physiology instruction given to medical studentsand graduates. He covered the whole field of pharmacology, from its historicalbeginnings to the most recent developments.Despite this enormous teaching load it is probable that he would have been withoutpeer as an experimental pharmacologist during the thirties and forties had hechosen to devote the remaining small part of his time to his own experimentalwork. Instead, he accepted many other responsibilities. A glance at the bibliographyreveals the large gap in his published work during the years 1938-48-asilent tribute in itself to his selfless devotion to the interests of others. He servedin the Home Guard during the war and was Academic Sub-Dean in the Facultyof Medicine from 1943-8. (A prospective student, who later became a member ofBain's research team, recalls the interview he had with the Sub-Dean for entry tothe University of Leeds; the young embryonic pharmacologist. already overawedby the importance of the occasion, was completely dumbfounded by the fact thatthe whole interview seemed to be conducted in a foreign language quite incomprehensibleto a Sassenach.)

At one time or another, Bain served on many University committees. Theyincluded those concerned with Post-War Developments, Scholarships, Applications,Superannuation, Women's Halls, and the Joint Advisory Committee of the University,Teaching Hospital and Regional Hospital Board. He also served on thePharmaceutical Advisory Committee of the Leeds Regional Hospital Board. Aseditor of the University of Leeds Medical Magazine he found time to stir upcontroversy with his editorials. A member of the Academic Consulting Staff of theGeneral Infirmary at Leeds from 1935 until the 'appointed day', Bain strovecontinually to establish cordial relations between clinical and academic staff.

Hispaper with Taverner affords evidence that his efforts in fostering his ideal of collaborationon equal terms between an academic department of pharmacology andhospital clinicians, met with considerable success. In addition to these localactivities he gave sterling service to the British Pharmacological Society.In 1947 Bain's staff was augmented by the appointment of another demonstrator5in pharmacology-John Broadbent, now Professor of Pharmacology and Dean ofthe Faculty of Medicine at Lusaka. At this time, James Dare, Peter Hey andGeorge Nelson were responsible for the pharmaceutical teaching. Bain was ableto devote more time to experimental work and the department became active inresearch, establishing a reputation in more than one field. This applied particularlyto the development of quantitative methods in human pharmacology, and theirapplication in the assessment of the then new antihistamine drugs-never to becalled antihistamines, for Bain, like Dale, argued that there is only one histamine.

The growth of this young and active department was greatly facilitated whenadditional accommodation became available. Bain planned a new research floorfor pharmacology. Alterations and equipment were financed by a generous grantfrom the Wellcome Trust and the Chairman, Sir Henry Dale, opened the newresearch laboratories in January 1955 on the occasion of the first meeting of theBritish Pharmacological Society in Leeds.

Throughout the 1950s Bain acted as guide and mentor to a small band ofworkers who, in addition to those already mentioned, also included Jean Batty,Barbara Brown, Willey, Exley, Cahal, Fielden and me-this in spite of muchanxiety and unhappiness in his private life resulting partly from his wife's ill-healthand from his own frequently recurring attacks of bronchitis. He often felt thatconditions at Leeds were not ideal for his wife or for himself, and he particularlydisliked the interminable arguments over accommodation in the Medical School.

Thus, those who were closest to him were not surprised when, late in 1958, hedecided to vacate his chair from March 1959 in order to assume the directorshipof the new Smith, Kline and French Research Institute at Welwyn Garden City.Essentially a university man, it was not easy for him to leave academic life andmove into industry, although outwardly he appeared unconcerned. The move endedhis responsibility for pharmacology at Leeds, a responsibility he had carried foralmost twenty-five years, much of the time on his own.

Many of his staff and students rallied round him and moved with him to theS K & F Research Institute where he was rejoined by two former colleagues-Heyand Broadbent, who had meanwhile been working overseas-along with othersrecruited from various fields. He quickly established an active research programmerun on academic lines, with the research staff given as much freedom asmost academic workers, but with better and more lavish equipment and technicalhelp. His technical staff was headed by his chief technician, Duncan Cameron,who had worked for him for a long time at Leeds. One of his innovations wasthe establishment of a common room for the staff of the Institute where meetingsfor coffee and tea provided frequent opportunities for the sharing of interests andthe discussion of problems.

Pioneering a research institute on university lines within a commercial organizationwould undoubtedly have led to valuable and profitable new drugs. Butmaterially rewarding discoveries were too slow in surfacing, and the inevitableconflict between academic curiosity and practical application in commerce led toBain's resignation on 13 May, 1966. He continued as a consultant to the ResearchInstitute until he reached retiring age; and he was able, through the S K & FFoundation, to extend his support for many projects in universities and to fosterthe development of some pharmacology departments, such as that of Trinity6College, Dublin-an interest complementary to his work as an assessor for theUniversity Grants Committee from 1958 onwards.

In 1961, soon after they had moved to Welwyn, Bessie Bain died. In 1962,Willie married Freda Dratman of Philadelphia who had previously been associatedwith Smith, Kline & French in the United States of America.

Scientific Work

Few people realized what a consummate experimentalist Bain was, for he himselfdid little experimental work from the outbreak of the war in 1939, largely confininghimself to directing and advising his staff and students. Anyone who saw himsetting up a spinal cat, a modified Langendorff heart, or a cat nerve-muscle preparation,could not fail to be impressed by his skill, elegance and speed. Many ofhis students-inept beginners lacking standards for comparison-were less impressedthan they might have been; those who later saw famous experimentalphysiologists and pharmacologists at work then recognized Bain's artistry andoutstanding expertise. He could cut down, clean and cannulate the femoral veinof a cat, with scalpel and forceps only, before blood had had a chance to ooze-afeat to admire but not to emulate.

Three main themes run through his published work-the functioning of theautonomic nerves, the inactivation of the sympathetic transmitter, and the assessmentof antihistamine drugs.His first paper came from the Marine Biological Laboratory at Plymouth; itdealt with the actions of adrenaline, and other drugs, on the hearts of variousinvertebrates. The effects of ergotoxine on the response to adrenaline had notpreviously been investigated in an invertebrate; Bain found that ergotoxine did notantagonize or reverse the action of adrenaline, and that pilocarpine produced aneffect similar to that of adrenaline. The tribute at the end of this paper is interesting;it reads: 'The author's acknowledgements are due to .... Miss B. B. Smithfor assistance in conducting the experiments.' This is the only record of Bessie'sparticipation in pharmacological experiments.

After his visit to Brussels, where he had worked with Demoor and Rijlant onactive substances in the atria of mammals, Bain returned to Edinburgh and beganto prepare his Ph.D. thesis which was submitted in 1932 with the title, Studies onthe Comparative Physiology of the Heart. The thesis incorporated work he haddone at Plymouth and in Brussels, and described the disappointing search for the'heart hormone' which Demoor and Rijlant thought they had been able toextract from 'pacemaker' tissue. In it, one can discern Bain's awakening interestin pharmacology which made it easy for him at a later date to take the step fromphysiology to pharmacology. It contains a diagram of the apparatus used todemonstrate, on frog hearts, the humoral transmission of the effects of vagusstimulation. This diagram is now known throughout the world for, slightly modified,it has appeared in all editions of The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeuticsby Goodman and Gilman; the original clearly shows the vago-sympathetic trunkstill embedded in the tissues carrying it from the medulla oblongata.Ten years earlier, Loewi had obtained experimental proof of the chemicaltransmission of the nervous impulse, and in a series of papers had graduallyidentified Vagusstoff as a choline ester, until he finally settled on actylcholine.

Many who had attempted to repeat Loewi's fundamental work on the frog hearthad found it difficult to get confirmative results, and some had failed to get anyresults at all. Bain devised a new technique 'whereby the humoral transmissionof the effects of cardiac vagus stimulation in the frog may be strikingly demonstrated',and by it, many confirmations of Loewi's work were obtained, contributingto the worldwide acceptance of the theory of chemical transmission. Bain'stechnique was based on continuous and somewhat rapid flow through the donorto the recipient heart ' in the hope that the " vagus substance ", almost as soon asit was formed, would pass into the irrigating fluid and thus away from at least oneof the factors operating for its destruction'. With proper adjustment of flow, theirrigating fluid from the donor did not cease to flow when the donor heart wascompletely stopped. Thus, both donor and recipient hearts could be in standstillsimultaneously.

For the remainder of his time in Edinburgh, Bain was largely responsible forrunning the Department of Physiology. He maintained his work on the mode ofaction of vasomotor nerves, the results forming the basis of his contribution toVolume 23 of the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Physiology which was dedicatedto Schafer by his students, past and present, in honour of his eighty-thirdbirthday in 1933.

On moving to Leeds in 1934, Bain continued to work on vasodilator and otherautonomic nerves and his paper with Irving and McSwiney on visceral afferentnerves was the first attempt to work out the afferent pathways in the splanchnicnerves.At this stage he began to take an interest in the subject of the destruction ofadrenaline-he always pronounced it "adreenaline" for, as he said, we got it fromthe adrenal gland. In a series of papers between 1936 and the outbreak of WorldWar II, he showed that adrenaline in Ringer solution lost all its pressor activityin 40 minutes whereas in blood it lost only 40-60% of its pressor activity in 4hours. Cocaine did not alter the rate of inactivation, but when liver slices wereadded to the mixture of blood and adrenaline all activity disappeared within 4hours. Kidney was intermediate between liver and skeletal muscle which had verylittle effect. Boiling for a few minutes destroyed the power of the liver, and cocainedid not inhibit the inactivating principle of the liver, which he failed to isolate.

In the first paper from his own pharmacology department (J. Physiol, 1937, 91,233) he showed that most of the apparent loss of pressor activity in blood alonewas accounted for by uptake of adrenaline into, or on to, red blood corpusclesfrom which it could be recovered by laking. He felt that it was wrong to assume,as many had done, that inactivation of adrenaline in tissues was similar to thefree oxidation that can occur in Ringer solution-most studies on adrenaline inactivationbefore Bain's time had been done with Ringer solution as the medium.He exposed this fallacy and went on to investigate the different rates of inactivationby livers of different species, guinea-pig being very active followed by man, rat,cat and dog, with mouse having the least effect.

He found that in specimens of liver from three human beings there was muchless activity than in other human livers. As two of these people had suffered fromarterial hypertension of a non-renal type, and as the third had had a diastolicpressure of 90 mm but no other signs of hypertension, he associated the lowinactivating power with the high pressure, and suggested that the raised pressure inhypertension might result from delayed inactivation of the transmitter of adrenergicvasomotor activity-then thought to be adrenaline.

After the war, Bain returned to experimental work, and devised a technique forthe quantitative assessment in man of antihistamine agents. He measured thearea of a weal provoked by the intradermal injection of histamine before, and atvarious times after, an antihistamine drug. The regular experimental animals werethe staff of the department but he sometimes also enlisted the co-operation ofPh.D. students among whom at that time were Stuart Adams (now with Boots) andGobinda Achari (lately Professor of Pharmacology and Principal of the P. W.Medical College at Patna).

Bain's interest in antihistaminics continued until well intothe 1950s, and was extended to the clinical field by co-operation with variousclinical colleagues particularly dermatologists Warin and Hellier.

Despite the attractions of histamine and its antagonists, Bain could not ignoreadrenaline for long. Along with Jean Batty he extended his previous investigationon the destruction of adrenaline to include noradrenaline, whose importance hadnot been realized when the earlier work was done, and which they now showed tobe destroyed by liver similarly to, but faster than, adrenaline. And they suggestedthat 'the original hypothesis based on results with adrenaline can now, whateverits worth, be extended to include noradrenaline'.

At about the same time Barbara Brown's attention had been directed to anotheraspect of adrenaline inactivation-inhibition of monoamine oxidase. Many of hertest compounds were made by Hey who was also busy investigating the requirementsfor nicotine-stimulating activity among ring-substituted choline phenyl ethers. Inthe process he synthesized choline 2:6-xylyl ether bromide, known as TM10.Willey, testing on the cat's nictitating membrane stimulated pre-ganglionically andpost-ganglionically, and on the arterial blood pressure, was impressed by thedramatic and very prolonged tachyphylaxis shown by TM10-a first injection produceda marked rise in blood pressure but a second, even a long time afterwards,did not. Hey and Willey explained this on the basis of known pharmacologicalactions-as local anaesthetics produced a similar but transient effect, and asTM1O had a powerful and prolonged local anaesthetic effect, they argued that theprolonged blockade could result from the prolonged suppression of conduction inpost-ganglionic sympathetic fibres.

So the situation remained until Exley showed that the post-ganglionic actionpotentials were not suppressed by TM1O in doses that blocked adrenergic-nerveactivity; he went on to show that it blocked the output of noradrenaline from thespleen on stimulation of the splenic nerves and that, in acute experiments, it didnot prevent the release of adrenaline or noradrenaline from the suprarenal medulla;and he suggested that it worked by reducing the output of the mediator liberatedfrom adrenergic nerves.

Bain saw at once the importance of Exley's observation and, while encouraginghim to continue with his investigation of the cause of this selective inhibition ofadrenergic nerve function, he began, along with Fielden, to examine the effect ofTM1O on the synthesis of the adrenergic transmitter.During this final burst of experimental work, he showed that dopamine restoredactivity in the Finkleman preparation that had been treated with TM10 whereastyrosine, phenylalanine and dopa did not, and he concluded that TM10 probablyworked by hindering the formation of dopamine perhaps from inhibition of dopadecarboxylase. Direct testing of this hypothesis showed, however, that dopadecarboxylase from guinea-pig kidney was not inhibited by TM10 and further work,with human chromaffin cell tumour tissue, seemed to show that TM10 largelyinhibited the conversion of dopamine to noradrenaline. This last result was,however, not unequivocal and it was never fully accepted.Even to this day, the exact mode of action of TM10 has not been elucidated,but when Clark-who had followed Hey as chemist in the department-elegantlyshowed that the nicotinic rise in blood pressure produced by the original sampleof TMIO was due to small traces of the O-tolyl ether, and not to the TMlO, Bainwas finally convinced of the value of serendipity in pharmacological research.Serendipity or not, however, this work of Bain and his department gave rise to theadrenergic-neurone blocking drugs which now play an important r6le in the controlof hypertension.Pharmacological SocietyBain was a staunch supporter of the British Pharmacological Society which hejoined as an ordinary member in 1939, the year when it was suggested that membershipshould be limited to 50. He served in various capacities until his death.As Treasurer from 1947 to 1964, he was fanatically determined to keep downexpenses and to hold the subscription within the capacity of the pockets of juniormembers.

Much of his success was achieved by good housekeeping, for whichsome of the credit must go to his secretary, Miss Mary Turnbull, but also partlyby making use of the facilities of university departments with committee memberson the staff. But even so, before he gave up as Treasurer and handed over in1965 to Derek Wood, his successor in the Chair at Leeds, he knew that expenseswere mounting and would soon inevitably surmount income. His record ofseventeen years as Treasurer is unlikely to be broken for a long time.During his period as Treasurer he was an ex-officio member of the Society'sCommittee, and from 1965 to 1967 he was an elected member. From 1955-60and from 1967 until his death he represented the Society on the British NationalCommittee for Physiological Sciences.

From 1954 to 1957, Bain was Press Editor of the British Journal of Pharmacologyand Chemotherapy, a task that he much enjoyed although for family reasons he didnot always have as much time to devote to it as he would have wished. How helaughed at some of the phraseology, especially late at night when relaxed by 'thebeneficial pharmacological properties of ethyl alcohol'. 'Here's another' he wouldsay, 'in the case of adrenaline. I approve of whisky in a case but not adrenaline.'

"Human" to him was never a noun, and he was a great chaser of "only" into its properplace. "If you take hyphens seriously you will surely go mad," said this Scot,a clergyman's son, laughing uproariously at the thought of a pharmacologist whowas uncoordinated. And juxtapositions like 'isolated invertebrate hearts foundon the south coast' would make his face redden and puff out until he exploded ina great guffaw.

He was a great Press Editor. Even after he gave up the Editorshiphe continued to serve until 1960 on the Editorial Board and did much for thejournal.

Bain used to insist that communications at theSociety's meetings should not be read, and how-following Trevan's example-hewould protest when slides were not legible or were packed with typewritten figures.

In 1967, soon after his retirement, the Society recognized his many contributionsand elected him to Honorary Membership. Bain was very proud of thishonour which made him one of an elite group of very distinguished pharmacologists.

Shortly before he died he showed that he still had the Society's welfare at heartwhen he indicated that he would like his friends to contribute to the funds of theSociety rather than to send floral tributes to his funeral. Recalling that somepapers read at the Society's meetings were trivial, and had been submitted forreasons other than their intrinsic merit, he asked that any memorial in his nameshould be used to allow a young pharmacologist to attend an international meetingprovided that the visit did not include the reading of a paper.

Other Societies and Honours

He was a member ofthe Physiological Society and for many years, particularly early in his career, hewas a frequent contributor at physiology meetings. He was also a member ofthe Society for Experimental Biology, the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh,the Royal Society of Medicine and the Biometric Society.

In 1931 he was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh andmore recently to the Fellowship of the Institute of Biology.In 1953 his Alma Mater awarded him the Doctor of Science degree and in 1967the University of Dublin honoured him with an honorary Sc.D.

The Man

He loved to retell his special stories, enriched with Scottish idiom, and accompaniedby grimace or buffoonery to achieve the maximum effect, being less concernedwith any loss of dignity than with the delight of his audience. One remembersthe impromptu departmental parties starting mysteriously with 'a wee dropof the auld kirk', usually in a beaker-' we have dispensed with accuracy '-andending on special occasions with his own Scottish song 'I had a barrie and thewheel gaed roond'. Sometimes, as the party wore on, great matters of scientificimport would be solemnly discussed, until the 'Prof' deflated everything andeverybody with his face-reddening suppressed laughter, and his infectious chuckle'Och chaps! It's a poor heart that never rejoices '.

Bain died from the effects of a bronchial carcinoma on 24 August 1971, four days after his sixty-sixth birthday. His end was not easy. He suffered much and long, but his courage was greatand his sense of humour never deserted him. Look at his final and shortest publicationand admire the spirit that enabled him, a few weeks before he died, tojoke about the tautophony of Ouabain and W. A. Bain.

Such was this friendly scholarly man who was always full of fun, and you werenot long with him before it bubbled over, even during his last illness, whoseinevitable end he clearly foresaw and awaited with great courage, tenderly supported by his devoted Freda from whom he derived much strength and who brought him great happiness in the final decade of his life.

With the death of Willie Bain, 'Jock Tamson's family' lost one of its bestbairns.

(1) Mogey, George. William Alexander Bain, Ph.D., D.Sc., F.R.S.E. Hon. Member. Br. J. Pharmac. (1972), 46, 1-12.

(2) BAIN, W. A. (1971). Ouabain. Lancet, 1, 1238.


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