Professor Rona MacKie smiling at the camera

I was Professor of Dermatology at the University of Glasgow 1978–2000, the first time in its 500-year history that a woman was appointed to an established Chair.

Professor Rona MacKie

My major area of research was the epidemiology and molecular genetics of malignant melanoma. In the 22 years I held the Chair, it grew from a small department to a healthy unit comprising an established Chair, three non-clinical senior lecturers, one clinical senior lecturer, a clinical lecturer and supporting staff. We had excellent links with our colleagues in the NHS, particularly pathology and medical mycology.

We raised funding to allow us to occupy two well-equipped floors in the newly-built Robertson Building in the molecular corner of the University adjacent to colleagues in Genetics and Virology. We published high-impact papers in journals, such as The Lancet, in these fields, making major contributions to the epidemiology of melanoma in the UK, and collaborating as part of ‘Genomel’, the EU-funded melanoma research group. We established a large patient base with a pioneering patient-support group, and one of the most touching events around my ‘retiral’ was a dinner hosted for me by the patient group.

Looking back, I would do it again instantly if invited to do so.

My family background was biological science rather than medicine. My father was a Biochemist, and a former President of the RSE, and my mother was a PhD Microbiologist. I chose to study Medicine, I think because of an interest in people. I was stimulated to specialise in dermatology by brisk encouragement that this was a speciality in which I could combine patient care and research. The move to specialising in melanoma came from contact with a patient in my first year after graduation and I will be forever grateful to him for giving me the motivation to work in this area.

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