About J Maxwell McKenzie

On April 30, 2009 thyroidology lost one of its major movers when DR. JOHN MAXWELL MCKENZIE died in Miami over 50 years after first describing the famous McKenzie bioassay for TSH. He was 81 years of age and a former President of the American Thyroid Association (1984-1985). After graduating from St Andrew’s University in Dundee in 1950 he went as a medical officer to Korea. Eventually he returned to Dundee to continue his residency and lecture in Pharmacology before being sent to work with Edward Astwood in Boston. While in Dundee, he had been introduced to the use of radioiodine for the measurement of protein bound iodine in patients and used this knowledge in the development of a mouse TSH bioassay in Astwood’s laboratory. This was stimulated by a visit from Dick Purves from Otago in New Zealand who, with Duncan Adams, had developed a system using the more impractical guinea pig. These circumstances are reviewed in an interview published in Thyroid in 2001 in which he surveyed his work relating to thyroid stimulating antibodies. In 1959 he joined McGill University in Montreal and became Chief of Endocrinology and Metabolism while maintaining his research interest in Graves’ disease. In 1981, he moved to become Chief of Endocrinology and Chair of Medicine at the University of Miami. He proved to be an effective division chief and chairman while continuing as an outstanding scientist and an extraordinarily compassionate physician who valued human dignity above all else. Supportive, respectful, thoughtful and encouraging are among some of the words that former lab members and mentees use to describe him. He was always focused on the academic progress of the young faculty members but also saw life beyond science and kept a high spirit of friendship while entertaining long discussions about opera and other cultural affairs.