Douglas Adamson was the younger son of James Kinnear Adamson, schoolmaster, and Georgina Key. He was educated at Morgan Academy, Dundee, and at St Andrews University, where his all round ability was shown from an early age. He was captain of his school and sports champion. At university he was capped for rugby and in his final examinations passed with distinction in medicine. He had already acquired skills in mountaineering and angling, as well as a deep love of nature and a special interest in ornithology.
After serving as a house surgeon at Sunderland Royal Infirmary, followed by a brief spell in general practice, he enlisted in the RAMC, serving throughout the second world war, mostly in the Middle East and Burma. For his distinguished service in anti-malarial control, particularly in the advance from Imphal to Mandalay, he was twice mentioned in despatches.
In 1946 he returned to Dundee as lecturer (and later senior lecturer) in medicine under his former mentor, Adam Patrick. In 1953 he became a part-time consultant physician based at Dundee Royal Infirmary. Eventually, as senior physician and chairman of the division of medicine of the Dundee General Hospitals, he exerted strong influence in upholding standards of integrity, compassion and professional competence, especially at the difficult time of the commissioning of the new teaching hospital at Ninewells in 1973.
He was a popular and busy consultant, a first class administrator and a very good clinical instructor. His research interests were restricted by his busy clinical practice but he published papers on blood disorders, endocrine and metabolic disease and tropical disorders. He also made an important contribution to medical research in his community as a founder member of Tenovus Tayside, a fund raising organization. which has successfully sponsored a number of important research projects in the Tayside area.
He played a full part in community life in Dundee and was a well known member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St. Andrews. He was still at the height of his professional career when he was overtaken by serious illness, but with courage and dignity remained at work for two years, till the day when he died of cardiac arrest at the age of 64.
In 1950 he married Catherine Nicholson Miller and they had one daughter and two sons; the elder son also entered the medical profession.
Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
[Brit.med.J., 1979, 1, 1288; Lancet, 1979, 1, 937]