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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 September 29; 335(7621): 675.
PMCID: PMC1995515

Ian Patrick Mulligan

Ian went to school in Hereford, then up to St Thomas's Hospital Medical School, where he qualified in 1979 with a first class intercalated degree. He worked in London, Suffolk, and Northampton, rapidly gaining the MRCP, and then in Cardiff, where he undertook both clinical work and research into heart failure, and from which time he had many happy memories.

In the late 1980s he moved to Oxford, undertaking basic research in muscle physiology as part of Professor Chris Ashley's group, so acquiring his DPhil. Postdoctoral research followed in the John Radcliffe Hospital, with Professor George Hart, where he looked at the physiology of isolated cardiac myocytes. This long period of research led to numerous well-cited publications in prestigious journals. Subsequently he was a senior registrar also in Oxford, where, in addition to his clinical work, he undertook important work on the utilisation of evidence based medicine on the acute medical take, leading to a Lancet publication with over 280 citations.

In 1998 he was appointed to Milton Keynes General Hospital as a cardiologist. He was a busy clinician, being both part of the on-call team of physicians and one of four cardiologists, with angiography sessions in Oxford. He was acutely aware of the resource issues facing district hospitals, the inequalities in access to health care related to NHS politics, and the power of the local hospital, rather than patient need. He actively sought to improve access to specialist cardiology services for the local population of Milton Keynes, and to this end served on innumerable committees at local and regional level to promote the case for increased local specialist facilities. This diligent work led to the building of a new annex on the Milton Keynes site, adjacent to the cardiology department. It contains a dedicated cardiac angiography and pacemaker implant facility, and opened just a few months before Ian's untimely death.

Ian had enormous interests outside work. Several years ago he obtained a private pilot's licence, partly training on old cold war Soviet aircraft. He was a keen skier, and most years went either to the Alps or the Rockies, with his wife, Jane. They both enjoyed opera and often invited guests to accompany them to Glyndebourne. He was an avid reader, especially of conflict and political history. He always considered himself lucky not to have been an Eastern European in the mid-20th century. During the battle for Stalingrad, a favoured Soviet tactic in house-to-house fighting was to emerge unexpectedly via the cellar hatch and disembowel defending Germans using a sharpened garden spade: Ian not infrequently made reference to not having to face “the man with the sharpened spade” when commenting on how lucky he was to have been an Englishman in the late 20th century.

Ian had recently taken up painting, both with acrylic and watercolours, and displayed great talent. He was a keen salsa dancer, competing nationally, most recently in Blackpool, Lancashire.

He had an insatiable curiosity about the world, leading to him being widely travelled. In the 1970s he journeyed overland to India, and remembered with fondness his time in Afghanistan. He loved grand European cities and most years would look forward to the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, as usually this was held in a great city that he loved (unfortunately in recent years it was held too often in Stockholm). Three years ago he returned from Munich excited (and surprised) to have found a plaque commemorating one of the original Nazi marching grounds. He became increasingly fond of Cuba, where he had previously travelled for a cycling holiday, and, more recently, to practise salsa dancing. He was learning Spanish.

Wherever Ian was he made lasting friendships, as witnessed by the many old friends, many made decades ago, who came to his memorial service. He had a tremendous memory, particularly for human events, and would recall almost every detail of other people's lives, revisiting them long after you had forgotten them. Ian loved language, the well-told anecdote, and was capable of delivering sharp insights of great perspicacity into the human condition. He enjoyed fine food, fine restaurants, and lively pubs, but above all, company. He leaves behind his wife, Jane; his sister, Helen; his mother, Edna; and innumerable friends. His untimely death robs us all of a deeply treasured friend.

There is a website dedicated to Ian's memory:


Consultant cardiologist Milton Keynes General Hospital (b 1955; q St Thomas's Hospital Medical School, London, 1979; DPhil, FRCP), died suddenly and unexpectedly aged 52 from a myocardial infarction on holiday in Havana, Cuba, on 25 July 2007.

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