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David Rowan: in memoriam

Friday 14 Sep 2018 {{NI.ViewCount}} Views {{NI.ViewCount}} Views

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David Rowan: Founding Member of ICS and Honorary Member. Died: 10th August 2018

David died peacefully, on 10th August 2018 , age 89. He was a family man, devoted to his wife Jessie who predeceased him, and very proud of his son David and 3 grandsons.

In the late 1960’s, David had worked as a bioengineer in the Department of Clinical Physics and Bioengineering, Western Regional Hospital Board. Around 1969-70, Eric Glen sought the help of the Department, to explore techniques to investigate the causes of urinary incontinence and the effects of electrical stimulation in its treatment. Previously, David, had worked with Shedden Alexander, a general surgeon in Glasgow, who for a time was interested in treating incontinence by stimulation.

This was the start of a close collaboration with Eric Glen leading to the establishment of the first specialist referral urodynamic service in Scotland at the Southern General Hospital, later to become the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Glasgow.

David was a founder member of ICS in 1971 at a time when proportionately there were more physicists, compared to now.

He was an active member of the ICS, and was elected Membership Secretary in 1975 at the AGM in Glasgow, a post he undertook meticulously without secretarial or other clerical support. In 1985, as the membership numbers significantly increased, members at the AGM agreed to purchase a computer system for membership administration. This was one of the first IBM PC microcomputers any of his colleagues had seen. David had developed software using in-house microcomputers, but was now enabled, without clerical assistance, to provide a comprehensive Membership Directory, a detailed record of subscriptions paid, a library of standardised form letters, a detailed statement of annual expenditure to the auditors, and a continuously updated Membership List for each Chairman to assist in the organisation of subsequent Annual General Meetings. Scrupulous as always, David arrived at work an hour early to fulfil this role outwith his salaried hours. David’s reports during his unbroken record of attending the many AGMs were clear, concise, and detailed.

For many years, David was an active member of the Standardisation Committee.

Shortly after the inauguration of the ICS in 1971, Peter Caldwell arranged for David and Eric to be invited to join a UK Department of Health working party exploring the development of devices for the control of incontinence.
In collaboration with Aled Evans and later Doug Small he developed one of the first computerised urodynamic systems. The DISA system had an RS232 output stream of data and allowed graphs and reports to be generated. Then followed programs for a prostate clinic, preanaesthetic assessment, and the Open Access Continence Resource Centre and Helpline for Scotland, using patient operated history taking and management recommendations. For a number of years, he organised the trade exhibition and dealt with the finances for the annual meetings of the Continence Task Force for Scotland. He was also involved with the West of Scotland Home Dialysis Service .

David produced regular bibliographies for ICS covering the years 1961-89, initially in the Incontinence Reporter published by Vitalograph, Buckingham, England, and subsequently in Uro-Lit published by Dantec, Copenhagen (1-9). These were sent to all ICS members, and provided a valued resource.

He produced helpful guidelines on how to improve the quality of lecture slides to be used in ICS meetings, especially if dual projection were being employed. David was meticulous in keeping records, including copies of ICS Meeting Programs, which proved of value in the compiling the ICS History book. There was a lighter side to all this, and Eric comments that “we had many enjoyable experiences participating in numerous meetings in a wide variety of countries. He was an excellent and entertaining travelling companion.”

David was active In the Hospital Physicists' Association – which combined the functions of a trade union and a professional body. He negotiated at a national level with cabinet ministers. One former minister for health was foolish enough to say “the reason you physicists don't have a pay review body is because unlike radiographers, you don't do an honours degree”. This man was soon corrected.

David also revealed unexpected skills on the dance floor at several ICS functions.

On his retirement in 1990 he was made an Honorary Member of ICS.

He was further honoured by the eponymous David Rowan Lecture at ICS in 2011, delivered by Prof James Gillespie on “The New Bladder Physiology”. Regrettably ill-health prevented his attendance.

ICS pays David this tribute. Our thoughts are now with his family.

This tribute was prepared by his Glasgow colleagues Eric Glen and Doug Small, and read by Ted Arnold at the AGM of ICS in Philadelphia 2018

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