Dr Ian Duncan (61-66) Veterinarian
Prior to studying at Merchiston I studied at Ayr Academy, my mother decided to move me and it was one of the best decisions she ever made. If I had to go back in time I would always pick Merchiston.
I gained a superior education and was taught by many inspirational masters. I developed a love of nature, biology and the outdoors thanks to Merchiston giving me the opportunity to take part in so many out-of-school activities. I just loved exploring and camping in the Pentlands.
If any boy was ever considering an education at Merchiston I would say ‘Do it!’. You will never regret it as you will have so many opportunities to take part in so many activities, beyond spot and get an education that will help you secure a place at university.
I graduated from the Glasgow University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1971 and in 1975 graduated with a PhD in Experimental Neuropathology. In 1977 I received a Fellowship from the Canadian Multiple Sclerosis Society to work in the laboratory of Dr. Albert Aguayo in the Department of Neurology, McGill University. I was appointed Assistant Professor at McGill and in 1981 received the prestigious award, “Scholar of the Medical Research Council of Canada”.
In 1983, I moved to the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine as an Associate Professor. I was promoted to full Professor in 1987. In 2013 I was appointed to a WARF Named Professorship, the Sir William Lee Weipers Professor of Veterinary Medicine.
I received many honours including Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (1992), Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists (1996), Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2006) and Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters (2009). I also received many awards including the WSAVA International Award for Scientific Achievement (2010) and the American Veterinary Medical Association Lifetime Excellence in Bioscience Research Award (2015).
I have served on many scientific review sections, including the NIH, and is a member of the Grant Review Work Group of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM-2005). I serve on the Norwegian Stem Cell Advisory Board (2008). I am the chair (2007) and founding member (1988) of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Myelin Project.
Since 1977, my research has focused on myelin, playing a vital role in understanding the basic biology of inherited disorders of myelination of the central nervous system and is recognized internationally for his range of scientific expertise as an integrative biologist. I have applied cellular and molecular techniques to explore and define the group of animals known as myelin mutants.
Three things stand out to me as my greatest achievements. Being elected as a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and being appointed to a named Chair at UW-Madison – The Sir William Weipers Chair of Veterinary Medicine; he was the founding Dean of the Glasgow Vet School and an inspiring mentor. Becoming Merchistonian of the Year in 2017 has made me especially proud as I owe so much to my education there.
Outside of work, I have spent over 30 years competing as an endurance athlete in cross country skiing, marathon canoe racing, running and triathlon. I have completed 3 Ironman (IM) triathlons finishing 2nd in my age group and I have regularly won my age group in half IMs and other distances. I have completed 32 American Birkebeiner ski marathons (55K) and 3 Norwegian Birkebeiner Ski marathons and achieved a Gold Coureur de Bois award at the 160K Canadian Ski Marathon.