MALCOLM, John, C.M.G.
Professor of physiology in the University of Otago.
A new biography of Malcolm, John appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
John Malcolm was born in Thurso in the north of Scotland in 1873, the son of John Malcolm, a crofter. He was educated at the local school where subsequently, at the age of 14, he served as a pupil teacher for four years. In 1892 he went to Edinburgh to study medicine. He had a distinguished undergraduate career, gaining the Neil Arnold Prize in 1893, the Grierson Bursary in 1894, and the Vans Dunlop Scholarship in 1896. He graduated in 1897, when he at once entered the physiological department of Edinburgh University under Professor Rutherford. In 1899 he took the degree of M.D. with first-class honours. On the death of Professor Rutherford in 1899 he was appointed to the junior staff of the department under Professor Schafer and, later in 1902, to a Lectureship in Chemical Physiology in the same department. In 1905 he was appointed to the Chair of Physiology in the University of Otago, a position which he held for 43 years.
For many years he taught single-handed the subjects of physiology, biochemistry, and histology. It was not until 1910 that he secured the services of a technician and not until 1914 the services of a part-time professional assistant. As a teacher he was sound, thorough, and capable, and his students regarded him with affection and respect. He played a full part in the work of the university, being at one time chairman of the Professorial Board, a member of the University Senate, and Acting Dean of the Medical School. He also commanded the Medical Section of the University Officers' Training Corps.
He was always active in nutritional research and was a foundation member of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and the chairman of the Nutrition Research Committee of the Medical Research Council.
In 1911, at Dunedin, Professor Malcolm married Frances Harriet Victoria Simpson of Dunedin, by whom he had three children, a daughter and two sons who both qualified in medicine, one now being professor of physiology, University of Aberdeen.
Malcolm was a man full of kindness and courtesy, of transparent integrity, which compelled affection and respect with his students and colleagues alike. His main interests centred in his family and in the subject of physiology. He worked hard for 67 years – from the age of 14 until his death on 17 June 1954, in his eighty-first year.
by Charles Ernest Hercus, KT., D.S.O., O.B.E., U.D., M.B. CH.B.(N.Z.), M.D., D.P.H., B.D.S., F.R.C.P., F.R.A.C.P., F.R.A.C.S., Emeritus Professor, University of Otago.
- Annals of the University of Otago Medical School, 1875–1939, Carmalt-Jones, D. W. (1945)
- The Otago Medical School Under the First Three Deans, Hercus, C. E., and Bell, F. G. (1964).